Some women get sweet-talked.
Some women get beat on.
Some women get tired of taking orders.
Some women get fed up, run off,
end up at Rocky’s, taking orders.
- Alexis Rhone Fancher
Of Accents & Peanut Butter
I used to make fun of my mom’s accent.
Amused and fascinated, by
the way it would cling to her tongue. Heavy and thick
like the way peanut butter sticks to your teeth
when you eat it.
It dangles. On the edge
of different letters. My mom is a car,
and her accent continues to hang on tightly
with both hands clenched. No matter how long
she has been in America now.
The scene on the red trolley, when her voice was turned into a joke
at someone else’s expense. Someone who was not me.
A man with wrinkled, alabaster skin
sitting across from us. His eyes
narrowed. His face
tightened. Trying to make sense of
our laughter. Watching us
speak in a tongue he did not understand.
His knuckles clenched
around the newspaper he was holding
in front of his face, like a shield.
He rolled his eyes. A scoff lodged in
his throat, until-
The headline crumpled
between his hands.
“Speak English!” he spit.
“For all I know, you could be fucking terrorists!”
seemed to vibrate back
and forth between us.
Until they landed on my
her face filled with shame.
And that’s when my mom’s accent,
her voice, thick like paste. And peanut butter.
The same one that welcomed me into this world,
that soothed me in the dark,
that gave me my first name,
so no one could ever doubt I was anything but
American. That made
getting up, growing up. Easier-
It stopped being funny.
I realized this country could never belong to my mom,
not in the same way it belongs to me.
And I stopped laughing.
- Jen Manalili