We were walking down 1st St—a street I’ve only been down twice
this being the second time I’ve felt seen by a woman I wanted to be
seen by. You said you could hear my accent and it was the first time
I believed anyone when they said that. You heard my voice and heard
my father’s truck tires spinning through the neighborhood and not
the one he had, the one he dreams of having before he dies. And not
the father I complained about but the father I told you I wished
he could be, the one that listened. You heard my mother trying
to please everyone and keep her name at the same time
in the way I push down the syllables when they come to you,
how I keep them in their place so they don’t forget where
they come from. You heard the accent in me and called it chola
and I said, nah, it’s Fresno. You heard the Fresno in me
and my poor posture checked itself straightened up
like a Steinbeck novel in a brown girl’s hands: rare & familiar.
I said something about gold loop earrings, but what I meant
was thank you for not judging me for this. I didn’t tell you this.
I wish I would have mentioned how I heard your halfness,
which is a fullness, your all-in all-out mega Boricua,
your immaculate jump shot capability to name things by what
they are not, how your father makes it into every description
you give me of yourself: white, unequal, do you think you’re special?
You said, you’ve never come into a relationship as friends first.
I said, I’ve only loved people who are my friends. Dear woman
who said you heard my accent even with all these Los Angeles
cars stumbling by even with all the disclaimers we have both
made you have listened to my body with your body and I
have never been so true. Friends hear what you need
from yourself when you talk. I hear longing from every
direction with you. A woman said she heard my accent
but I think she meant I hear you talking to remind
yourself who you are and she listened and she said ok.
Read Borjas’ “A Note for Daughters.”