Mami and Papi used to speak it when they had a secret they wanted to keep from us children. We lived then in the Dominican Republic, and the family as a whole spoke only Spanish at home, until my sisters and I started attending the Carol Morgan School, and we became a bilingual family. Spanish had its many tongues as well. There was the castellano of Padre Joaquín from Spain, whose lisp we all loved to imitate. Then the educated español my parents’ families spoke, aunts and uncles who were always correcting us children, for we spent most of the day with the maids and so had picked up their “bad Spanish.” Campesinas they spoke a lilting, animated campuno, ss swallowed, endings chopped off, funny turns of phrases. This campuno was my true mother tongue, not the Spanish of Calderón de la Barca or Cervantes or even Neruda, but of Chucha and Iluminada and Gladys and Ursulina from Juncalito and Licey and Boca de Yuma and San Juan de la Maguana. Those women yakked as they cooked, they storytold, they gossiped, they sang--boleros, merengues, canciones, salves. Theirs were the voices that belonged to the rain and the wind and the teeny, teeny starts even a small child could blot out with her thumb.