For Those Of Us Who

For those of us who live in the cracks of the pavement
Catching the mud and the gravel in the nets of our mouths
For those of us with splintered molars
Lizards, who ache in the night
For those of us that clench and tighten our jaws, like animals under attack
For those of us in the constant, unchosen fight for survival
Those of us who are pathless
Those whose histories were never written down,
Whose families’ tongues were tied into unfamiliar knots
Those who can’t make whispers and bows in the language of our grandmothers
This is our song, our lullaby
I pull your sweet skin close to mine and listen to the blood in your veins pulse a poem so lovely the breath goes out of me
In my arms, I rock you.
Babe of mine, I coo to you, as you slumber, at peace,
No more wandering,
No more questions
For those of us who have to dig underground,
Enter the mines of who we are
We became Xican@
We became Queer
No one taught us how to be this
We excavated the depths of our identities to discover ourselves.
I am Xicana with an X.
We are birds, flapping against the wind
Traveling with chosen family
With love and with pride
For whom this excavation has not been easy or quick
For those of us in the double helix
For those of us that code switch
For those of us who are still learning the shape of our own magic.

 

Ash Wednesday

One minute ago, my body tremored from the smudged ash
Blessing the foreheads of strangers.
Bodies – brown faces, recall my own and
in an instant
my mother’s face sweeps over me like a flush of cherry light
and I become a secret, yellow glow fish
in the blue speckled seat of this Metro;
A sea turtle in the thick, soft center of a cushioned seat. A redwood forest.
A white sheet of madrone peeled gently from its home.

Where is the church? The steeple?
Where is the doorway to my childhood? My mother’s spiritual,
Post-colonial history?

My body is a gathering of praying turtles with candles on top their shells.
We balance fire and wax on our backs,
They drip slowly,
But don’t burn,
Because remember, we’re protected by shell.
Underneath sleep the hidden struggles,
Carved into our tender meat.
“Wounds of the flesh” they call them,
The bleeding red violence struck upon
our fractured bodies,
fractured cause they didn’t think
we counted as whole.
Think invasions, explosions of metal,
Churches burnt down and homes gutted.
A radio on with death all around.
Think 80 thousand and one women’s bodies,
Abjected,
Rotting inside of me.
Except,
Then we turned green,
And glowed the way ferns do in the sun.

My body is a church underwater.
Sometimes the sea I’m inside feels like a coffin from which I look upon the sky.
Glass coffin,
That holds the unwritten stories,
Forgetting. Forgetting the incisions,
The markings of time,
The histories written only on our bodies,
Breast milk stolen from out our breasts and babies ripped out, right out our flesh, and rape, yes rape, still on our heads, and sex, forced sex with all white men.

I am not angry.
I just don’t want any more children that aren’t mine.

I refuse to lie down, again, for you.
I resist your attempts to slit us through,
I will hold my rifle in front my breast,
And carry my babies on shoulder, overhead.

My past wakes in me and I will not silence its scream.
Name me something new. Plant this root called truth:
Call me Woman and Queer and Colored and Longing
And I will love you in a desert for the rest of the world.

Not just once, they threw acid over our many flames.
But the flames, they flicker still
Live still
In our yonis,
Sacred churches that glow,
In spite of war and shattered glass,
Tremble on, fight with fire,
Write and resist.
Come at us with your best hate, and we will pummel you with love.
We will not lie down, we tiger riders.
Spears in our hands, newborn cubs in our wombs,
Wombs you tried to remove but no I won’t let you again.
We grow back stronger.
We serpents shed our radiant skins,
And our mothers, sisters, friends, lovers, teach us,
In flaming poems,
How to work our gleaming swords.