“Rethinking Language”

By Keishla Rivera-Lopez

I’ve been thinking about how
we learn to cook as children,
and how it mirrors the way 
we learn our language. There are no
classrooms or signs of formality.
The experience is peppered in 
mistakes and being. But once a pot
produces food, no one asks if you’d 
had prescribed training, or if you consulted 
with a chef. No, there is none of that. 
The people just eat. They enjoy
the delectable food.

Language happens like this.
We try to curl our tongues to
produce the sounds of our ancestors
and of our parents. The language
of our homeland. Take our words
as you would the former ingredients
in the pot. Theoretically speaking,
the dance our tongues do produce 
sounds, that are Spanish but
resemble music.

Keishla Rivera-Lopez is a poet, writer and scholar. She received a PhD in American Studies at the Graduate School-Newark at Rutgers University where she was a 2019-2020 Dean’s Dissertation Fellow. She was born and raised in Newark, NJ to Puerto Rican migrants and reflects on what it means to be a child of diaspora in her scholarship and writing. Currently, Dr. Rivera-Lopez is an Assistant Professor of English and Latinx Literatures and Cultures at Millersville University. Keishla enjoys writing poetry, short-stories, and essays from her travel and everyday experiences as a Puerto Rican woman. She also enjoys experimenting with different sazons and sofritos, hiking, dancing and traveling.

Featured image by mantunes