Lengua de mi madre, have you forgotten me
in greenness of your green
Havana palms, in your thousands of orchid
blooms, in woven shades
of your mango trees, flamboyant trees stretching
like a brocade or aged fishing net?
When did I lose what I never received from you?
Some part I’m missing or some part
that missed me. Perder:
to lose or miss an object or a thing
like keys or time, but not the same, as to say
I miss you: te entrañjo.
Perhaps you haven’t forgotten; perhaps,
you merely passed over me
as when saying los padres when la madre is there,
her singular identity erased
even if she’s in a crowd of madres and there’s one
padre among them: one father
or many parents. My anglo father learned to speak
with an accent, proof of how long
you’ve been here, vestige
of the power you wielded in mouths
of conquistadores. And the few who survived, los pocos
spoke a pastiche—a bastard tongue.
I can’t know more than las historias: the histories
that are passed down to us,
the same as when you mean to say the stories—
a homonym I discern only
from context or pattern of where it states itself.
The lineage is everything.
I’m two steps away from holding you as if always
my own. I’ve listened to you, rhapsodic:
the way my mother speaks
at home, the way mi abuela spoke
in this world. And when I was confused, I fused
a flesh from your sounds.