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Here’s a story. A bilingual baby goes to her first day of preschool. Her teacher can’t pronounce the Spanish name “Marisa,” the long stretched-out I or the rolling R. So she calls her “Marissa,” and the child learns to respond to this name that is not her own. The same day, that child with the wrong name asks an adult for agua. She’s thirsty, but no one understands her. No one knows what she’s asking for, so she doesn’t drink anything all day. Actually, this isn’t a story at all. These are just the facts. I’ll resist the urge to say that assimilation was an act of survival because nothing is that simple. The act of releasing whole chunks of your identity into the wind takes years, not a single day. It just happened — a Marisa became a Marissa, and a child forgot how to say her own name. . . . . . . #writersofinstagram #writing #latinx #mexicanheritage
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“She Who Cannot Be Contained” (excerpt):
“A barely-born daughter, I was wrenched from my cave, slipping loose from the outer skin. Behind me is the memory of another body, never born at all. My squall splits the silence; my layers peel back and away, off my shoulders like hard wings that flicker behind me in the wind. The word that comes to mind is muscovite. It splits into sheets, thin panes to peer through, glass-like. Peel away the lacquered exoskeleton, and the light shines through.
Later, I hang skins over the cave-mouth, wish I had never left.”
“Red Tides” (excerpt):
“It was a long spiral back to the bottom from the surface of the tide, and now it is not a confession I am choking on, but karenia brevis, bitter on my tongue. I am dragged beneath, hair tangling like red seaweed in the water, and it occurs to me that this has been destined all along.”
“Red Tides” (excerpt):
“I am stuck on a memory of filth, seeing the red bloom of karenia brevis on the Gulf Coast tides, but most likely, I never saw this anywhere but my own mind. Toxins have already choked the vitality from our cells, everything slowing down inside the lines of our skulls, our brains, biochemistry betraying us.”
“Flora Mala” (excerpt):
“…walking in the street miles away from home, bougainvillea ripped out from Brigid’s shoulder blades, broke the skin with sharp red-tipped thorns.
The branches twisted around her until she found her voice, breaking an unintentional vow of silence. Her confession was hidden inside the stories she told to wide-eyed children in the street, stories about parents who were carried away on a northern wind and never returned to the small child left behind.
No one could look away…
‘Sinner,’ they whispered.