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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.

Poet Bio

Ada Limón earned an MFA from New York University, and is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, The Harvard Review, Pleiades, and Barrow Street. Limón splits her time between Kentucky, California, and New York.

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