I Forgot How to Pronounce My Last Name

The Yay Sound. It’s not that
                  difficult                a sound to make. 
It’s the same even, 

                 as the ones you                    ask me to make 
to show you that I am 
                   happy. (It’s fake, don’t forget.) 

It’s not even RRs that roll
                  so slickly off our tongues, 
that we can teach even our white 

                 children to pronounce. It’s                   no 
river to cross, there’s no wading 
                 chest high               through danger for you. 

It’s the creek licking your
                ankles. You barely                 even have 
to roll up your pant legs. Say it 

when the water is only shallow: Phew, yay. 

Instead, the little ask we make is
                   to commit to memory 
that the double                      L reminds you 

                   that you too are                   happy. Yay! 
Say it with me: yay.
                 Think of it as the yay in Kanye. 

that should help                jog your memory. 
                And if that doesn’t work, 
just think of all that          yay you snorted 

               in college while I buried my 
yays deep down              hiding in books 
               from each passing stranger, professor, friend 

who never asked how to                pronounce          
             my name. It’s a wonder you ever 
learned to pronounce tortilla at Chipotle. 

Apply that here.

Andrew Villegas is an editor at Colorado Public Radio in Denver. His reporting work has featured in The Washington Post, USA Today, NPR and in newspapers all over the country. His poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from the Sonora Review, The Acentos Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Love’s Executive Order and in The Louisville Anthology from Belt Publishing.  

Next Page (Carolyn Supinka)

Previous Page (Sophia Zhou)