Father-Lengua

My father speaks English

with “peros” and “itos”        his pointer

fingers cross     one

              on top

              of the other

to push away mal de ojo

his right hand quickly

does the sign of the Cross

all for good measure

He is a master in lip-pointing

his mouth puckers

then turns towards an object or

person      no need for translation

I tell him he is a polyglot    his body

speaks where words fail

people comment on his accent

they mispronounce his name

he laughs heartily and without shame

most people call him ex-

                      savior

as if he had fallen from grace and could not be

redeemed      shah vee air he says

over and over      it’s Basque

but they forget after the first time

think Basque is a famous painter

so at the coffee shop I write his name

                               –XAVIER–

on every cup I make


Leonora Simonovis is a bilingual poet, mother, and educator who grew up in Caracas, Venezuela and currently lives in San Diego, CA, where she teaches Latin American and Caribbean literature, as well as creative writing (in Spanish) at the University of San Diego. She is also a contributing editor for Drizzle Review and an MFA candidate in Poetry at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review blog, Storyscape, Tifetet Journal, The Acentos Review, the American Journal of Poetry, and The Rumpus, among others. Her chapbook manuscript, “Waiting for a Ripe Mango,” was a finalist in the Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook contest.