Lecciones de lengua

She is proud of her papá
because he comes
to their little grey school,
converted from army barracks,
to teach español
to Mrs. Brenda’s fifth grade.
And that means they don’t
have to listen to that awful
Señora Beister on TV
with her screech owl version
of “Las mañanitas” and her annoying
forefinger to the ear,
and then to the lips,
               y repitan.
He teaches them to order
Coca-Cola en el restaurán–
               Señor, quisiera una Coca, por favor
and the names of all the utensils–
               cuchara, cuchillo, tenedor.
The children look at him funny
when he picks up the knife.
Next week he will demonstrate
the bullfights he watched
in Mexico when he was muy chiquitito.
He will choose a boy to snort, stomp,
charge the red cloth
that Papá will snap
at his side as he dodges
the sharp-horned strike,
stabs invisible swords
into the boy’s hide
               and makes the children laugh.

Brenda Cárdenas, “Lecciones de lengua” from Boomerang. Copyright © 2009 by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe. Reprinted with permission.
Source: Boomerang (2009)
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