Exit

They are all there, asking
clumsily about mortality:
the half-cousin I’ve never met.
The uncle, who whines constantly
about his health and cannot keep
any aunts around to listen.
“What about life after death?”
they want to know.

My Grandfather sits
by her bed immoveable.
A glacier, in the limelight
for once. All their lives
she towered over him,
so full of German blood,
her hair stayed red for years.
When she dyed it,
finally, nobody noticed.

She would smile her fixed grin
in our brief bi-yearly visits.
Even her teeth scared me
and I came to dread her jolly
facade, her probing questions
I always left unanswered.

I don’t speak now, only
follow the last cousin
into her cell, the bed holds her,
inclined, surrounded
by life breathing machines.

It is done in a moment

the tubes slide easily out.
Her last breath is a suction of dying
lungs but she leaves the room in silence.
The closest we will ever come
to understanding.

Note: I wrote this when I was 18, 5 years after my grandmother died.

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Dear Sister Letter Poem

Author’s Note: This is a letter poem that was accepted into the Dear Sister Anthology. It should be published within the year. Check out the editor’s blog for updates: http://dearsisteranthology.wordpress.com/. Let me know what you think, I wrote it for you!

Dear Sister,

Surviving is the process of living and dying each day. A primortal balancing. The ability to walk through level five earthquakes. When you feel the impossible breathing down your neck, you are on the right path. Sometimes you crawl, wander or run but as long as you continue moving your engery will keep you alive.

As a kid I was not suppose to get sick, so I always was. We would go to the doctor when we could afford him and he would never find anything wrong but ask why such a young child was so stressed. “Is everything alright at home?” he would question, although my father was in the room. It is easier for me to believe that something is wrong if I am showing external symptoms. Being sick gave me a sense of power over a mind who would hide for days and seem to be beyond control. When I developed rheumatoid arthritis at 17 it gave me the perfect excuse to to ignore myself and delve further and further into the grind of daily, knee, hip, knuckle deterioration.

I only walk you through all this so you might know: when you develop a migraine, look inside. If you have a cold which turns into a chronic cough and lasts for months, take a day to yourself. If a morning comes when it hurts to much to think about getting out of bed, come back into your body and choose to live.

In these islands we are constricted. We can’t steer without nicking our props on the reefs of mysonogy, running ground on the sand bars of self doubt. We think we have found a clear passage and the deadhead of identity knocks a hole clear though our hull. The fish are all gone and there aren’t enough odd jobs to go around.

Surviving is the process of finding new connections each day. An hourly reckoning. The ability to trust although it seems impossible to look anyone in the eyes again. Sometimes we stumble towards eachother and our engery will keep us alive.

I love you,

Rebecca Eaton Wyllie de Echeverria

How to be Lightskinned

don’t mind when people can’t tell.

discover racism
when they ask
“are you sicilian?”
“are you italian?”
“are you greek?”

over and over and over

instead of
“oh you must be,
latina
mexicana
indigenous
mayan
spanish
chola
marimacha
chicana
hispanic”

when I visit
Mexico
of course I fit

did you think racism only exists in one country?

Authors Note: I am not Mexican but there is only one word I know of for Guatemalan people and I have never been there. I read this piece in front of a room full of mostly white people today and there was a lot of silence but it was okay.