West Texas Talk:
Poet Rosa Alcalá On Her Other Tongue, English

Rosa Alcalá is poet, translator, and teacher in the Department of Creative Writing and Bilingual MFA Program at the University of Texas at El Paso. In this conversation, Alcalá discusses the interplay of and importance of both English and Spanish in her life and her latest book of poetry,  MyOTHER TONGUE.
PARAMOUR by Rosa Alcalá
English is dirty. Polyamorous. English
wants me. English rides with girls
and with boys. English keeps an open
tab and never sleeps
alone. English is a smooth talker
who makes me say please. It’s a bit of role-playing
and I like a good tease. We have a safety word
I keep forgetting. English likes
pet names. English
has a little secret, a past,
another family. English is going to leave them
for me. I’ve made English a set
of keys. English brings me flowers
stolen from a grave.
English texts me, slips in
as emoticons, goes to all
the mixers. English has rules
but accepts dates last minute. English makes
booty-calls. English makes me want it.
When I was younger, my parents said
keep that English out of our
house. If you leave with that miserable,
don’t come back. I said god-willing
in the language of the Inquisition. I climbed out
my window, but always got
caught. English had a hooptie
that was the joint. Now my mother goes gaga
over our cute babies. Together
English and I wrote my father’s
obituary. How many times
have I said it’s over, and English just laughs
and says, c’mon, señorita, let’s go for
Chinese. We always end up
in a hotel where we give
fake names, and as I lay my head
to hear my lover breathe
I dream of Sam Patch plunging
into water, a poem
English gave me
that had been given
to another.

 

About Diana Nguyen

Diana Nguyen produces the interview program West Texas Talk. She is particularly interested in exploring the intersection of range life, high-brow art, and the vast oil fields of West Texas.
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