Listen to author

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Our baby’s name will be Luigi. Luigi will be born in Chicago, delivered from his mother by a nurse who will whisper Spanish while she wrestles with his tangled cord. Luigi’s mother will be an immigrant. Immigrants, Luigi will read, pass like coins from pockets to hands, to counters, to fields and streets and tiny gardens, to pockets, and if the immigrants are children when they pass the way they pass, like Luigi’s mother, they may find that even with four decades spent they’re still between two currencies, one worn vague (but warm from being carried), the other so bright it bleaches (making things that aren’t equal seem so).

The nurse’s name will be Lupe. Lupe will be born in Juarez, to a family that won’t own their home but will own the way they are when they aren’t working. Lupe and her husband will be immigrants. Immigrants, Lupe will argue, roll like tires from wherever-the-fuck to here, uphill, downhill, off-hill, wobbly with the hope that anything they hit won’t lead to leaking, to being dragged and piled and burned.

The nurse’s husband’s name will be Antonio. Antonio will be born in Mexico City, in a university library, to a mother who will holler and a father who will hold her, singing. Before them will gasp a crowd of students hot with hope and fear. Immigrants, Antonio will ask, spend so much time trying to remember songs that they forget them, or so much time trying to forget songs that they remember them? What they remember might be forgettable and what they forget might be memorable? If they think about this, they’re squeezed into a smaller smallness. If they don’t—into wonder?

Antonio’s father’s name will be Bolesław. Bolesław will be born in Buenos Aires to Polish refugees, battered painter-poets, immigrants who will look like brother and sister and act like mother and son. Immigrants, Bolesław will write, are between the legs of language. Legs that kick, legs that squeeze, legs that tighten with restraint.

Bolesław will write, making payments on a homeland inside the homeland he’s inherited.

Antonio will sing to stacks of books.

Lupe will murmur, setting language on our Luigi.

For some time we will be silent. For some time we will wait for what comes, for where it goes.