By Sharmley Lopez (’22)
Today I have burdened you, and for that I apologize.
On your shoulders stands four hundred years of suffering
of arms stretched out seeking a tender home
of shoes too small to dance with
in a body that doesn’t feel like your own
In your veins there are 400 years of shipwreck.
of drowning bodies. of tears in The Atlantic.
of salt on wound. of languages lost.
When you learn of this,
you will be angry
You will be angry, and you will want to forget
Reach for the butter knife and slice up the bilingual
This blood only knows one country
You will not be a product of this nightmare, you say
Two fingers in the throat and out spills your ancestors’ tongues
Still pierced by the shackles that kept them twisted
There goes our spanish dripping down the drain
You will want to belong, so you don’t care
I am American, you say
At nightfall, history whispers in your ear
You want to stop the ringing, but this sorrow song never stops
Your mouth, once full of feast and promise
Sits flat and fruitless in the moonlight
My daughter, should I remind you…
This is a country of men who traded hoods for a badge
who eat stars and stripes and bullets for breakfast……
In a country that doesn’t love you
You must love yourself
Y cuando te des cuenta,
Que esta idioma es tu piedra
Una obra de arte
Un pedazo de tu tierra
You will realize
That your Spanish is your god-given gift
That mother-tongues are mother-tongues for a reason
Even when it’s sloppy, even as it grows
You are the bridge between generations
The magic vessel between two histories
To my daughter:
Today I have gifted you, and for that I will not apologize.