Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"You" By Julia Alvarez


By: Julia Alvarez

I love how English has a single you,
no tu, usted, no trying to figure out 
where strangers ran in the hierarchy
of my respect: are you a formal 
or familiar you? No asking permission
or apologizing if I get it wrong. 
I love the true democracy of you.
The pampered son of the dot-com millionaire
or the coal miner's daughter - all are you,
united in one no-nonsense pronoun. 

Comforting when I write because it means 
I'm leaving no one out, even a line
intended for an intimate includes
you, and also you. In this, my Noah's ark,
everyone is invited and can board
in two or threes or singly - those unborn 
as well as ghostly antepasados
who use to be usted and now are dust. 
At sea in mystery, we all became 
human cargo down the generations. 

Once you get used to you, all faces seem
to hold the face you love, and each child could be
the one you never had, each girl the girl 
you use to be or who your mother was. 
You is inclusive like that Beetle ad where linebackers kept piling into a car - 
I forget what the point was, but I'd watch
and understand their yearning to be one.
Just as I once climbed into a second tongue
and made room for me in its pronoun.

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