America's Beauty?

I want a poem

to metastasize itself into existence

from the hatred in my heart.

 

Cultivated slowly

 

through years of being told I am

not worth visibility,

not worth acknowledgment,

not worth the dignity that comes with controlling one’s own image.

Instead,

women sharing my bloodline

are strung up in maiden skirts,

handed feather dusters

and told to bend over when they clean.

 

Because straightened knees and straightened postures

only belong to those who are worth being seen
with strong stature

instead of silhouette spine,

contorting itself to befit

someone else’s ideal of beauty.

 

America told me I was not beautiful

as anything other than foreign,

designated my identity to exotic home.

 

I can’t say

"Damn, I’m feeling fine"

without hands reaching in

to assess their agreement.

I am 13-year-old Romantic lips

touched for the first time after:

"So, can I kiss you?"

"Sure."

 

This body never belonged to me anyway.

 

It belongs to camera crews

adjusting lighting filters to make my skin look most

appetizing.

It belongs to "ay papi" producing groans

in the lowest register.

This body belongs to chola earrings and colonized tongue,

not to miracle marketability and unanticipated eloquence.

America tells me daily

that my body belongs in the "exotic" section of pornographic menus--

spread open,

chopped up,

to be consumed

on TV screens

by men and women

who couldn’t break enough of us

to get their “fiery, spicy” fix.

 

Is it any wonder that this body breeds resentment?!

Breathes a cloud of poison to

enclose my personal space?

 

I want an ending to metastasize itself into existence

instead of waiting daily

for my body to be taken from me

like America has taught me to expect.

America's Beauty? was published in Issue III of St. Sucia zine in the summer of 2015.
© 2015 by Marisa Adame 

© 2016

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