My Body, My Choice

Vinny chats me up as one can do in 8th grade

(as boys can do in 8th grade), and says,

“Girls look better with their hair down.”

 

10th grade:

Allie tells me over pizza in a torn up, faux leather booth:

“People think you’re really pretty.”

 

“Take the bait,” they whisper.

“We are you.”

Your face, your words,

your worth:

we hold them in our hands.

 

I grew fragile.

 

“Not to mention you’re beautiful,”

a text from Devin I saved on my phone for 2 years,

a reminder that if I kept this up,

I could be loved.

“You’re special,” they said.

“Your precise,” they reminded.

“Keep it up.”

I never heard them clearly;

it was always muffled in my ears.

 

Confidence was for the battlefield,

and without cleats on my feet

and a soccer ball underneath

I depended, fully,

on this

damn

face.

 

Middle school:

Vinny was saying he “saw my potential”

and in that moment he pointed a finger at a moon

I did not know — that lights up the sky day and night.

With each step forward from that statement came promise,

like one day my body would, miraculously, lift off the ground and fly.

 

High school: I worked, observed, learned to follow the rules.

I made friends. I chased boys (or at least followed the chasers).

I saw a twinkle form in my eyes like the sun hitting my face

and I felt something grow: confidence big enough to sew a sweater.

That confidence was soft and warm and humble,

each stitch a modest color, so I put it on:

oh, the comfort…the ease.

 

What sweater?

This is my skin, clear as day.

I don’t need all of these words–

they’re woven into my Long Island DNA

and somewhere…somewhere…I seized it.

 

College: I was prepared!

My sweater was woven!

My charm was rooted!

Soccer, friends, face.

 

And then, college happened.

And it was full of devils,

people a mere sweater cannot take on

you want — comfort?

We’ll beat you.

You want — friendship?

We’ll desert you.

You think you’ve got talent?

We’ll show you.

Bam               bam              bam.

My skin faded, my body ached,

and what can a person do but blame what is left?

 

Wisdom swims through my veins.

Nana has her Jesus

and I have my Julia de Burgos

and that’s quite alright with me.

I build a new ship to freedom…

something you cannot wear, but ride–

invisible on all sides, impenetrable,

so much so that my world forgets the words

“break” and “fear” and “fall,”

that Kenny’s story can be his own.

that Marlena’s antagonism can be her own,

and that I can feel the wisdom in me,

the quiet confidence that does not need

a coach to tell me my worth.

 

I just play.

 

December 22, 2018

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Too Much

So –

do you think this neighborhood is too

gay

for you,

maybe too

poor 

for you

and oh, that means too

dangerous 

for you?

Are you just so

uncomfortable

when you see people

who are

not

like

you

because you’re not gay –

gosh, no;

and you’re not poor,

not gonna steal some stuff

off some other soul’s back

because you were left behind

to feed a mother and two kids-

no way.

 

You are just a person,

after all–

you shouldn’t

have to deal

with these feelings,

these

difficult

thoughts.

No —

you can just leave them outside,

let them blow away

in the blizzard,

land on someone else’s

snowy, white

front step.

 

 

January 3, 2018

Stories

Waves of story –

that is an emotional life…

trauma informed you have to mentally be still,

learn to see the busyness in your body, in your mind, practice

often, even though it isn’t fair you were born into a god damned

patriarchal, capitalistic, racist, classist, sexist, homophobic society

that favors my white Latina skin, that denies my queerness,
that pokes fun at my gender
every   single    day.

And stories- stories are life’s meaning that, in their fullest,
most fleshed out form, make us human.

I want this to be an ode to SBU; to HC;

an ode to Bruce,

my body, my breath;

an ode to my throat; an ode to my face;

an ode to my familia, my Kenny, my mother; an ode to my father,
brother, sister, to friends long lost;

an ode to America, to nationalism and Puerto Rico’s remains;

an ode to my pen;

an ode to emotional bodies laying dormant, untouched,

by a warmed soul lingering underneath,

pure animal energy

born in the womb of the Earth, returning to the universe

once I dare to turn each story around…

December 6, 2017

Love or Life?

Do I choose love,

or do I choose life,

down in here in this pit of society

where I can chose 1, be a woman

or 2, be someone, something else

I don’t know what that something is,

exactly, but I do know

it is something of a warrior,

everything of a human being

when love becomes “the next step” in life,

when it becomes a final goal

it ruins the songs for me, it ruins the longing in my heart

for love and life and more,

a world that can make sense again,

a space where I can start learning how the puzzle fits together

rather than about each individual piece,

peace does not, will not, never comes from love alone

these good-vibes-only signs make me want to be bad

I want to speak a language everyone will understand,

that will encompass sympathy and empathy and compassion

and purpose and results. I want to act.

 

I do want love.

But I want to live, too.

I want to live the life I choose,

not just that of the mother or the wife or the nurturer.

 

I want to give this Earth a voice.

That would do just fine.

 

a rambling in the wake International Women’s Day…

a day we shouldn’t need to celebrate…a day that should be every. day.

March 10, 2017

Practice

What makes you think you have to win,

that this is all a game?

 

I think that’s what they want you to think.

I think it’s what they’ve fed you since you were four.

 

Such a precious word, Practice.

 

Life is not winning and losing

and capitalism and greed

and first and last

and fixing and solving

and searching and striving.

 

Life is Practice–

for its own sake.

 

February 11, 2017

Inheritance

What legacy

have I been born into,

have you been born into,

have we been born into?

 

The farmer,

the preacher,

the banker,

the slave owner,

the slave;

the pawn,

the mom,

the sister,

the son,

the game.

 

It’s all a game of competition

or at least it all seems like a game of competition…

 

The Earth is not a game.

The Earth is life;

and we are part of the Earth.

 

We have each been handed an inheritance

that we had no control over.  You’re right.

 

We’ve all been infants, breast fed, bottle fed,

learned to read if we were lucky.

 

But how much did we really learn

if I am unable to read the society around me–

if society is unable to read itself?

 

Who created this inheritance, thought it was a good idea?

 

What is an inheritance anyway?

 

If leaves learned to read, write, speak

as we have…

perhaps we would have an answer.

 

January 22, 2017