Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Renaissance of love


Gray ocean waves
rushed the Manhattan Beach shore.
We strolled along The Strand-
congested with laughter, barking dogs
and skaters’ wheels rolling over sandy pavement-
symphony of summer beach life.
My heartbeat roared over all the noise,
only I could hear its rumble.

I took a big gulp of briny sea air,
my stomach felt like Jell-O,
I exhaled and tasted adrenaline.
We strolled along like so many other weekends
but I felt lost, in my thoughts in my feelings
rushing over me, coming to my surface
You grabbed my hand and pointed…
Something in the sky? The boat in the water?
Couldn’t make out what you said,
I know my hand slipped out of your hand
like the giggles slipped out your lips
I didn’t want to let go
but your hand carried away
my body heat with it.
I knew I couldn’t just be your friend
if not having you made
a summer afternoon feel cold.

My tongue stumbled trying to convey
to you my heart’s testimony.
I opened my mouth, wanted to swallow the sunset
to blind you with my smile,
tell you the things that emerge in me when I’m with you.
Your warmth all volcanic, melts my anti-love fears
allowing possibilities to erupt
and dreams of a future with you hover like cumulus clouds.
But all I had was human words, my truth
unfurled before you, earth angel,  “vision of loveliness,”
skin soft like rose petals, eyes blue like the horizon,
pink lips that part into a smile
that unglued me and made me feel like a convert
of the renaissance of love.

We sat on a bench to watch in silence
as the sun appeared to slip into the ocean.
“The sun doesn’t actually rise and set,
it’s us, Earth spins on its axis…” you said breaking
the silence.
“While it rotates around the sun,” I added.
My anxiety ebbed as I reached for you hand, pulled
you closer to me and asked “Will you be my sun?”
You grabbed my hand,
rested your head on me
and said “for all seasons.”

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Always the Help



My dream had always been to live in politics, study the laws of this land, be versed in democracy, and dish out justice to poor, immigrant, and other marginalized people en route to my post as Compton’s first Latina mayor. I was an eager sophomore at UCLA majoring in political science wearied by the level of competition. I was a nobody, not a star student, not known for my potential, just another student floating amongst the many over achievers swimming like salmons upstream where our future lay. I knew I had to do more if I wanted to stand out, get a letter of rec to an outstanding law school. I needed the guidance from other outsiders who had trekked this path before. I a young brown girl in a discipline, white as the walls of its department, traditions older than the building it was housed in, saw myself in you, Professor Star, fresh blood, eager faced Associate Professor with the energy and smarts that had broken through the political science glass-ceiling. I took you in and was excited by your voice, assured, strong and booming which filled the intimidatingly big lecture hall as you fielded questions from white, male students who sat back, so cool and comfortably in class knowing they belonged. When I watched you dialogue with that lone white female student whose outlier-ness was masked by the pep in her voice I thought of how I could get time with you after class. I was hungry to pick your brain; feast on your survival skills, so I became your research assistant. Each time I waited outside your office, listening to your womanly boss-voice rattle out your door as you guided your other young mentee, a white girl my, flame quivered, feet got heavy and doubt came over me like a chill. When I walked into your office, you’d ask me “how did the research go? Did you find and summarize the articles?” Never any formalities with me, never asked me how I was or how school was going for me. I coveted the platitudes I overheard you have with your young white mentee. But for me just a hello then my “to do” list. In those moments I felt like my mom, no I wasn’t working on my feet all day for meager pay, I was in the halls of a prestigious university interning for a white scholar who saw me as labor. The dream had always been to be in politics, after two quarters of feeling undervalued I went into your office placed your research on your desk and told you I quit. Your eyes looked at me as if recognizing me for the first time and you stayed quiet not knowing how to field my emotions.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

She Had Brown Hands




I.
She had brown hands that lead her five-year old in a dance
She had brown hands spotted with brown dots like a flour tortilla
She had brown hands that trembled as she counted rent money knowing she had $10 left over for the month to feed her babies
She had brown hands hinchadas cómo una concha recién orniada, calientes después de planchar lavado ajeno.

II.
She had brown hands con uñas rojas y puntiagudas como un pincel doing their brush work against the rough skin of her back setting it afire. Red, fire-rivers ran from her shoulders to the small of her back.
She had brown hands fuertes like a tortilleras, got into her, despertando sueños profundos.               
She had brown hands delicadas like an abuelas, caressed softness she didn’t know she had like the laughter trapped in between shoulders blades.
She had brown hands, brown hands that covered her eyes, cupped her mouth, restricted her breath; fit perfectly around her throat.
She had brown hands perfect for collecting her offerings, shiny, silky, sopping, ejaculates that erupted cause…
She had brown hands

III.
She had brown hands, gripping black hands, and white hands and olds hands forming a human chain of resistance, cutting the 101 freeway, refusing to let another jail go up. #JusticeLA #BlackLivesMatter
She had brown hands that balled and shot into the air in protest, “POWER TO THE PEOPLE!” Angry punches against injustices, the polluted LA air ricocheting off her chants.
She had brown hands, wiping beads of sweat, her palms also moist from the August heat, the energy urging to change the course for young men of color was palpable.

IV.
She had brown hands scarred from scorched metal. A hot metal star branded on the backside, a moon on her middle finger, viper teeth on her wrist.
She had brown hands that liked punching walls, hitting just enough to pull back not all the way broken, hidden childhood habits that she kept too much in contact with
She had brown hands that weren’t able to block, protect, embrace.
She had brown hands that knew how to lose her down a trail of cuentos
She had brown hands that gave her the courage her mouth often suppressed, emboldened with a grip of the pen.
She has brown hands that don’t want to hold back


*Inspired by “She had some horses” by Joy Harjo