My Most Persistent Recurring Dream Has One of Two Endings

By Leticia Priebe Rocha

After stepping off the plane, short legs wobbling,
heart tornadoing in my chest,
a tall attendant, blond and blue-eyed, gruffly
tells me to stick out my tongue, surrounds it with
rusty scissor blades. “English. Or you get the snip.”
I close a fist around my tongue and pull,
pull until Letícia becomes Luh-tih-shah and
língua becomes tongue and language.

A inquietude brasileira é famosa.
Uma escola de samba festeja through
their suburban streets, the roofs
of their 4-bedroom homes become
o novo morro, starving families build
favelas atop the comfort they greedily
cling to. Finalmente somos escutados.
We take back what was pillaged.

I cradle my two children who do not look
like me, settle each one into a crib on the
second floor of our 4-bedroom home. As
their faces drift into sleep, one of them
sticks a tiny tongue out, and rusty scissors
poke sharply in a crevice of my brain where
traces of samba have not been erased. I must
keep them safe, dreaming only in English.

Leticia Priebe Rocha earned her bachelor’s from Tufts University, where she received the 2020 Academy of American Poets Prize. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, she immigrated to Miami when she was nine and currently resides in Greater Boston. Her work has been published in Rattle, The Awakenings Review, and elsewhere.

Image Credit: “Angels” by Rachel Coyne