On Poetry and Culture Shock

Languages in which I could write

I thought I had posted this a long time ago but it's not on the files. Did it get lost, floating on the blogosphere? Who knows. Here it is anyway. I'm not sure it's not a repeat.

I can’t remember who asked me why I don’t stick to one language and whether I plan on using Spanish in the blog only, once I go back to Spain. Before I started blogging, I thought I had three choices. I could have a Spanish blog, an English one, or one in each language. Spanish might get me readers more quickly, English would get me more potential readers. I have chosen neither option. I want a bilingual blog in which everyone feels slightly out of place. Only a little bit. A blog where Spaniards that know me in the real world (hola, os echo de menos) make an effort to remember their High School English. Something that makes whoever reads me from an English-speaking country be frustrated at my habit of linking to Spanish websites, and the Spanish poetry, and the occasional Spanish word or phrase. A few readers (Sus, un petó) already used to swim in the middle of two or three languages, should feel at home. And that is exactly the way it’s going to be.

And this is what Gloria Anzaldúa thinks of being in the middle. Naturally, you won’t expect me to translate this one.

To live in the borderlands means you
are neither hispana india negra española
ni gabacha, eres mestiza, mulata, half-breed
caught in the crossfire between camps
while carrying all five races on your back
not knowing which side to turn to, run from;

To live in the Borderlands means knowing
that the india in you, betrayed for 500 years,
is no longer speaking to you,
that mexicanas call you rajetas,
that denying the Anglo inside you
is as bad as having denied the Indian or Black;

Cuando vives en la frontera
people walk through you, wind steals your voice,
you're a burra, buey, scapegoat,
forerunner of a new race,
half and half - both woman and man, neither-
a new gender;

To live in the Borderlands means to
put chile in the borscht,
eat whole wheat tortillas,
speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent;
be stopped by la migra at the border check points;

Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to
resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle,
the pull of the gun barrel,
the rope crushing the hollow of your throat;

In the Borderlands
you are the battleground
where enemies are kin to each other;
you are at home, a stranger,
the border disputes have been settled
the volley of shots have shattered the truce
you are wounded, lost in action
dead, fighting back;

To live in the Borderlands means
the mill with the razor white teeth wants to shred off
your olive-red skin, crush out the kernel, your heart
pound you pinch you roll you out
smelling like white bread but dead;

To survive in the Borderlands
you must live sin fronteras,
be a crossroads.

4 comentarios

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