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.