I’m Denice Frohman, and this is “Accents.” my mom holds her accent like a shotgun, with two good hands. her tongue, all brass knuckle slipping in between her lips her hips, are all laughter and wind clap. she speaks a sanchocho
of spanish and english, pushing up and against one another, in rapid fire there is no telling my mama to be “quiet,” my mama don’t know “quiet.” her voice is one size better fit all and you best not tell her to hush, she waited too many years for her
voice to arrive to be told it needed house keeping. English sits in her mouth remixed so “strawberry” becomes “eh-strawbeddy” and “cookie” becomes “eh-cookie” and kitchen, key chain, and chicken
all sound the same. my mama doesn’t say “yes” she says, “ah ha” and suddenly the sky in her mouth
becomes a Hector Lavoe song. her tongue can’t lay itself
down flat enough for the English language, it got too much hip too much bone too much conga too much cuatro to two step got too many piano keys in between her teeth, it got too much clave too much hand clap got too much salsa to sit still it be an anxious child wanting to make Play-Doh out of concrete English be too neat for her kind of wonderful. her words spill in conversation between women whose hands are all they got sometimes our hands are all we got and accents that remind us
that we are still bomba, still plena you say “wepa” and a stranger becomes your hermano, you say “dale” and a crowd becomes a family reunion. my mother’s tongue is a telegram
from her mother decorated with the coqui’s of el campo so even when her lips can barely stretch themselves around english, her accent is a stubborn compass always pointing her towards home.