Fifty years ago my older brother brought home the first tape recorder I’d ever seen, a little box that pulled my voice out of the air and spun it back transformed, whiny, stuffed-nose, singsong. I stared at Dave: Could that be how I really sounded? Like Speedy Gonzales, the cartoon mouse? He just pressed a button and played it again, trying not to grin. From then on, I obsessed over my pronunciation, labored to distinguish beach from bitch and bum from bomb, so no one would wonder where I learned my English. Where are you from? How much it meant to me to avoid that question! For years I practiced until I spoke like a proper Yankee, not a refugee from the Central American wars. Or so I thought. Then a clerk at Stop-N-Go asked if I came from Pakistan: he said I talked just like his dentist. At least, I thought, he isn’t thinking, Spic. Time to make peace with what could not be fixed. This morning I listen to myself on my iPhone, rehearsing a poem I will read tonight, and catch in my tone a lilt that’s gently foreign, like a distant song.