Frijochuelas

Photo Zenia Nuñez. Source: Flickr.com

Written by: Jasminne Mendez

 

Dear Texas, little Mexico, please don’t take

my Spanish away. Yo hablo español. I speak

 

Dominican. Rolled “r’s” and missing “s’s” punctuate

every loud como tu ‘ta, thrown

 

against your ears when you ask me once again

¿que dijiste? What did you say? As if a

 

Mexican and a Dominican spoke two different

tongues. So I’ve learned to adjust for you.

 

Slow down for you. Elongate the vowels, articulate

accents, and staccato every consonant like a mariachi

 

trumpet for you. Replace my childhood language with

words that won’t ring in your ears like dropped bombs

 

and try to fit in for you.

 

Guineo is a plátano. A plátano is a plátano.

Biscocho is a pastel. A pastelito is a tamal.

 

Salsa is not the fire in your hips but flames that

burn your lips and tickle the back of your throat.

 

Ahurita means later instead of now. And I drink orchata

instead of morir soñando through a popote never a calimete.

 

But please, dear Tejas, little Mexico, don’t take my Spanish

away. Because it echoes in my teeth like the last thump

 

thump of conga drums in a merengue. Because it bounces,

bounces in the mouth like a bachata not a bolero.

 

Because the words bubble on my tongue like a

steaming sancocho on a sweltering summer day

 

and make me feel full.

 

Jargon like guachimán, zafacón and pollina melt around my

gums and sit like impacted wisdom teeth I refuse to extract.

 

You spoon-feed me pinche elote, sopa pillas and raspas that collect

like unwanted cavities. When all I want is maíz, yaniqueques y un

 

maldito frio frio to brush my teeth with. This Spanish is the legacy of

my grandfather, the conversations  I will remember with my

 

grandmother and the only estate my Do-Mexican children will ever

inherit. Because their Abuelita Rosario will cook arroz con

 

habichuelas and call it kindness. And their Mexican Grandpa Mendez

will stuff frijoles in a tortilla and call it love. While their

 

father and I will invent a new, decolonized, virgin language,

put it in a pot, name them “frijo-chuelas,”

 

and call it home.

 

About the author:
Jasminne Mendez is an award winning author, performance poet and educator. She received her B.A. in English Literature and her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. Mendez has had poetry and memoir published both nationally and internationally and her first multi-genre memoir Island of Dreams was published by Floricanto Press was awarded Best Young Adult Latino Focused Book by the International Latino Book Awards in 2015. She is currently a creative writing MFA candidate in the Rainier Writer’s Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.

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1 Comment on Frijochuelas

  1. Thanks everyone for your kind words!

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