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Cuando Papi murio
Mami took all of his gold and tucked it into her closet
Yo me quede con un anillo
He bought me for my quinceanera
No me lo pongo
Its heavy
No me queda
It’s always been more his than mine
Mi abuelita,
Also had gold wrapped in a handkerchief
Mami guarda en su ropero
Back in el Salvador
Las argollas, los aretes, las cadenas
She brags about it to other relatives
Porque ella lo heredo por preferida
Too many of my stories
Empiezan con la muerte
I write best when I write from grief
Por lo que ya no está
What I am terrified of forgetting
Lo que se fue
What haunts me
Lo que me queda
The treasures I wrap away, safely
Tengo seis años de no ir al Salvador
I’ve been told, it is ugly there now
Y ya no me acuerdo de las milpas
I cant taste the mangoes anymore
O del mar
Or the dirt beneath my toes
Y talvez ya no soy de alla
Maybe I’m all american now
Pero yo nunca quise eso
Is this how it that works?
Colonization, gentrification
Vienen aunque nadie lo quiera
How do you resist being taken?
Como le hago para sentirme...less lost?
A quien le digo de La Mara Salvatrucha
And the airplanes with tiny seats
Y mi Español tartamudeado
My fear of flying, my hair products in my suitcase
Y mi Ingles que no tiene
Periods or comas
Y los libros
I can only read in English
Porque el Español
Makes me think too much
Me pregunta mi amigo
Were you born in El Salvador?
Y le digo que no
He says, then you are american
Y le digo que no
I write this poem Half in Spanish
Mitad en Inglés
To show him I am not really
Una americana
Or completely anything at all
Pero mi Inglés siempre a sido
Lo mas bonito que e tenido
Mira mi nina
Papi would say
Good English
So good
Y yo sonreia
Ser linda
Por un ratito
What was I washing out of my mouth?
Mami keeps all my baby teeth in a small jar tucked between her clothes in her closet. The same place she keeps my father’s gold. My grandmother’s jewelry. All these things i kept in my mouth when my only language was spanish. I spit them out because I was told to. Was told something new was coming. Something permanent. Something more me. But my teeth are still there. If you shake the jar they will rattle. If you shake me I rattle. If you love me, even a little, I will call you corazon. It will be small and pretty. Like the first tooth my father pulled out of me. Look at it. Aqui esta. Es Mio. Yo lo creci. Aqui dentro de mi.
Remind me again,
What language did I begin telling you this story in?
Yesika and her Papi, Jose Elmer Salgado
Yesika and her Papi, Jose Elmer Salgado