Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wendy Avila

Is where I am transformed, taken into and loved
Where enchiladas and posole
Is Spanish
For soul food

Means the way I live
Is not my attitude
But rituals mostly inappreciable,
To the non-Mexican eye

My skin color is not dark like theirs
But my freckles cover my face
Like the velo that covered my mother at church
My eyes are not brown like theirs
But they’re green with brown
Bright as the sun that woke them
Up to start on the field on a Monday morning

Means making plans
To leave their so loved country for a better life
And my grandparents crossing the mountains and
El Río Grande on a single broken branch
It meant starving for days, exhausted from the walk
Cold and soaked through many rainy nights

Meant shut your mouth
Eat what you have
Don’t talk back
And thank God you’re alive

It meant one generation later
There are three kids sprawled on the couch
Music up loud, TV flickers
While the neighbors screams

Meant living in California
East La, Whittier Blvd
Living nowhere near “the Gringos”
Because they were too good for us
With their fancy cars and their good money making jobs

Meant our fathers playing soccer with the children
While our mothers shared the gossip of the neighborhood
Doña Esperanza‘s tamales fragrance filling up the apartments
Every nose in the neighborhood stealing a whip of the smell

Was the sound of my Tia Lilia’s voice
Roaming the house
Like the cattle that roamed her house back
In the green tall grass in Mexico

Is the sound of my little cousins feet running around
The bare floor in the house that someday would belong to us
Coming home from school
Finding my mother at the stove making the tortillas
With this bewildered look on her face
It meant my dad coming home from work
Saying he was exhausted from el trabajo

Meant walking to the grocery store
The cashier behind the counter looking
At my mother with a dirty look as if my
Mother was less than her while she
Dug through her purse for her change

Meant our parents getting nicknames
Horrible names. Us kids we had no idea
What they were talking about

Meant getting made fun of
For my funny English
Being the 1st child of the first generation
Not knowing where to go to for help
Proving my friends and English teachers wrong.

But Mexican American
Meant speak up, don’t get pushed around,
Study hard and live your life
Don’t fit in, stand out, and make sure you’re loud

Mexican American
Means my behavior is not the way I live
My skin color may not be the same as theirs
But my freckles and Hazel eyes are bright as the sun
That wakes me up every morning.
The more I hold back, the more it comes back
To remind me of who I Am.

1 comment:

  1. This is my favorite of the poems on this site. Every stanza hits hard and strong. Compelling reading!