Brittany Wattenbarger – This is My America – 4

This is My America
by Brittany Wattenbarger

This is my America:
there is a brown-skinned girl holding my blue-eyed blonde child.
They are spinning, and fireworks go off in the neighborhood 
startling a laugh out of both of them as they fall backward into a heap.

Someone is speaking Mayan in my kitchen.
It’s Maam and I don’t know any words but chicken and tortilla,
so they switch back to Spanish and laugh at the way I fumble for the words.
Then they’re braiding my hair and there’s a child in my lap 
and he’s not mine but I love him anyway.

There’s potato salad and horchata, and the hamburgers are grilling
right beside the asada. 
This is not mine: I was born to sweet tea and hot dogs.
I was born to Baptist stock, sturdy and full of chicken casserole.
This is not mine: I cannot claim this beauty.
But someone is speaking Mayan in my kitchen,
and my child is wrapped in a rebozo on a back that is not mine.
There’s a child on my lap and he wants a story, so I tell him one
and he tells one right back.

This is my America: 
there is a girl who belongs to this land, and she is standing in my kitchen.
She is stealing plantains from the frying pan
and French fries from the fast food bags on the table.
None of us stop her, and my child is in a rebozo on someone else’s back
and she’s happy, and I’m happy
and there’s Corona in the cooler
and there’s apple pie in the oven. 

I cannot claim this, and I want everyone to see the beauty
of friendship and coming together.
Someone is speaking Mayan in my kitchen. 
It’s Maam and I don’t know the words.
They forget to switch back to Spanish and I love this
because this is my America
and the salsa is spilling on the hot dogs
and the hamburgers are next to the asada
and my blue-eyed girl is holding hands with her best friend.
This could be all of us.

Someone is speaking Mayan in my kitchen,
and my father is watching football. 
He’s throwing baseballs with a fútbol player
and they’re both terrible but they don’t care.

This is my America. I cannot claim this beauty,
but there are children in my arms and they want to hear a story.
I will tell them a beautiful America. 
I cannot claim it, but I know someday
they will.


Brittany Wattenbarger is an aspiring queer author and clandestine poet. She is co-author of The New Southern Cookbook. Brittany lives in Georgia with her husband and daughter, and splits her time equally between writing and playing Legos.