Now, a Literary Moment...
Millions of Americans grow up in bilingual homes. But how many have managed to write a bilingual poem describing the domestic struggle between the languages o the famil and the outer world?
"Bilingual/Bilingüe" by Rhina P. Espaillat
My father liked them separate, one there
one here (allá y aquí), as if aware
that words might cut in two his daughter's heart
(el corazón) and lock the alien part
to what he was--his memory, his name
(su nombre)--with a key he could not claim.
"English outside this door, Spanish inside,"
he said, "y basta." But who can divide
the world, the word (mundo y palabra) from
any child? I knew how to be dumb
and stubborn (testaruda); late, in bed,
I hoarded secret syllables I read
until my tongue (mi lengua) learned to run
where his stumbled. And still the heart was one.
I like to think he knew that, even when,
proud (orgulloso) of his daugher's pen,
he stood outside mis versos, half in fear
of words he loved but wanted not to hear.
This poem was read by Poetry Out Loud Pennsylvania State champion Chris Estevez
This Literary Moment was created by the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information visit poetryoutloud.org
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