"Est-ell-i"

[Exercise: What sound set your life spinning?]

The sound of my name being called out in Spanish, “Est-ell-i,” reminds me that I AM. itisnotthesameinEnglish.inEnglishwhenmynameiscalledIfeelseriousinside.likeIneedto
payattention.concentrate.lestIamdiscovered.lestpeoplerealizethatIamnotontopofthings.
thatIamsloooooowwww.notalert.notreadytoconquer.divide.

In Spanish, it’s okay that I daydream. That I like to sit for hours in a hammock staring at the clouds. Listening to the sound of the trees. Feeling the wind on my face. In Spanish, when I hear my name called, it’s perfectly natural for me—as it is for any child—to be a poet. It’s natural for me to stop, and stare, at the men helping the viejita mount the bus. To watch them hoist her 50-pound basket of fruit and vegetables—the one she carries on top of her head, daily—to the racks on top of the bus.

In Spanish, when my name is called, I know who I am. I know I am seen and cared for by my aunts, my grandmother, my mother. Even when I am in trouble—underneath the anger, the rage, the fear—I know that I am loved. Adored. When I hear my name in English, I have to squint to remember. Strain to see. I have to look hard.under the covers.under the bed. Where is she hiding? Oh, yes. There she is. Just call her by her real name and she will come.