By Ada Limón
When you come, bring your brown-
ness so we can be sure to please
the funders. Will you check this
box; we’re applying for a grant.
Do you have any poems that speak
to troubled teens? Bilingual is best.
Would you like to come to dinner
with the patrons and sip Patrón?
Will you tell us the stories that make
us uncomfortable, but not complicit?
Don’t read the one where you
are just like us. Born to a green house,
garden, don’t tell us how you picked
tomatoes and ate them in the dirt
watching vultures pick apart another
bird’s bones in the road. Tell us the one
about your father stealing hubcaps
after a colleague said that’s what his
kind did. Tell us how he came
to the meeting wearing a poncho
and tried to sell the man his hubcaps
back. Don’t mention your father
was a teacher, spoke English, loved
making beer, loved baseball, tell us
again about the poncho, the hubcaps,
how he stole them, how he did the thing
he was trying to prove he didn’t do.
Ada Limón, "The Contract Says: We’d Like The Conversation To Be Bilingual" from The Carrying. Copyright © 2018 by Ada Limón. Reprinted by permission of Milkweed Editions.
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