La Lucha

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La Lucha

They don't know what to call women like us

Women with coffee bean eyes

noses thick like sugarcane

welded from predecessors y patria,

hair a filament of rizos y raíces

they don't know what to call

women with an ocean of ancestors

swimming against the currents of assimilation

they call us exotic, erotic, ethnic, different

anything but beautiful

can’t pinpoint the indigenous, the Spaniard, the European, the African in me

the middle passage that paints this canvas

this art

this foundation

this make up that makes us visible

this mancha de platano

this stain  that proclaims I am here

we are always moving

we are a movement

never stagnant just rooted

they don't know what to call women

with mouths shaped like revolution

teeth picket line straight

tongue coated in rebellion like

Canales, Capetillo, Lebrón 

we were born with la lucha

tattooed on our biceps

wrestling away labels

choking on a dust of conformity

threatening to sully the safety of language

code switching mamasotas who carry truth in our throats.

I've never known a volcano to sit on the roof of the oppressed

in hushed incantation. If you were to ask me what my

lips taste like, I would  tell you, liberation.


© Maria Rodriguez Morales. Published by permission in Centro Voices on 24 April 2015.

Centro Voices (ISSN: 2379-3864).
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Centro Voices, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies or Hunter College, CUNY.