An American Love Story
by Rachel Robles Saeger
You don’t sound Puerto Rican they tell me.
Shall I roll an R and sit in the pocket?
Shake my hips in my banana skirt until you drool—
into the Arroz con gondules I’ve cooked for you?
I cut a vein and spilled my Sofrito into your plate.
Papi did not like my cooking therefore,
I am worthless.
Until I met my former best friend
an Irish girl named Annie.
We thought we’d open a bar called McRicans.
She had me over her mother’s to discuss our plans.
Her mother was a wealthy woman; well travelled,
she showed me rubbings from Egypt.
This is where I belong; it felt right.
We had wine together and I accidentally broke
a two hundred dollar candlestick holder.
Her mother responded,
“Raquel, what’s the difference between a spic and a…?”
She finished with the N-word.
Irish Annie and I never opened our bar.
I try to learn my mother tongue again.
Let my hair get kinky so—
I scare away more potential best friends.
I meet a white man, older than me.
He’s sophisticated and well travelled.
I decide I hate him; everything he’s about.
Until, I know him and learn I love him more than myself.
He loves me more than I do, especially in the morning.
Before I transform into my pretty self.
Before I calm my coarse hair with the flat iron.
Before I cook him pollo guisado.
Before I give him a half Rican, half blanquita baby.
Our baby looks white; it will be easier for her,
her blonde ringlets are smooth and shiny.
We decide to teach her Spanish.
Her father rolls R’s better than La Mama de Ella.
He’ll teach us both Spanish.
I’ll learn to love myself, then I’ll teach her.
She’s worth more than-Arroz amarillo,
a flat iron, a candlestick holder.