Professional Spanish Knocks on the Door
At first we don’t answer.
Knocks that loud usually mean 5-0 is on the other end.
Señora ábrenos la puerta porfavor.
Estamos aquí para platicar con usted.
No queremos llamar la policía.
The person on the other side of the door
is speaking professional Spanish.
Professional Spanish is fake friendly.
Is a warning.
Is a downpour when you
Just spent your last twenty dollars on a wash and set.
Is the kind of Spanish that comes
to take things away from you.
The kind of Spanish that looks at your Spanish like it needs help.
Professional Spanish of course doesn’t offer help.
It just wants you to know that it knows you need some.
Professional Spanish is stuck up
like most people from the hood who get good jobs.
Professional Spanish is all like I did it you can do it too.
Professional Spanish thinks it gets treated better than us
because it knows how to follow the rules.
Because it says Abrigo instead of Có.
Because it knows which fork belongs to the salad
and which spoon goes in the coffee.
Because it gets to be the anchor on Telemundo and Univision
and we get to be the news that plays behind its head in the background.
Copyright © 2021 by Elisabet Velasquez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
“I learned Spanish as a young adult and everyone would always tell me that I spoke it wrong. The problem was that I was told I spoke English wrong too. I believe part of why I became a poet was because it was impossible to speak wrong in a poem. A poem wasn't going to grade my grammar or deny me a job because of my accent. This poem reminds me that I am enough in any language.”