“Deconstruct Me”: A Poem by Isabel Cajulis

This is a poem delineating the role of the mosaic body in the establishment of a true identity. Racism/experiences with racism are both implicit and explicit, also touching on issues such as objectification.

deconstruct, me: asian warrior queen, a poem by Isabel Cajulis

here, i stand.

i.
deconstruct, me.
with my calloused hands and my hair in spirals
the body, a mess.
torn, used – not
damaged.
on my tan skin in my bones lived a warrior queen
she fought tooth and nail,
white fangs bared
to fight
for the soil that nurtured her identity
and now i fight, lightheaded and warm
to preserve her legacy.

ii.
deconstruct m e
a mosaic body
with hooded eyes and a flat nose
whose hips bear a story
of the gods
before the wind gave its name
to the earth and the sky.

iii.
de con struct, m e,
said the six-year old trapped in my body
before my jaw loosened and i learned to
not
seek validation in the whispers of others,
still dwelling on a time where the woman quietly racist
barked at me, with a whistle around her neck,
shadow creeping slowly behind her on the
gravel
of my childhood.
here, in my hands,
at the bottom of my stomach,
i triumph.
here, is struggle.
here, is trial
and tribulation,
and sacrifice;
mestiza blood, asian by label
to the ignorant mutterings on the street
communist, l’etranger, chink, Ni-hao, miss, can I get a picture?
but conqueror by
history.
and unshaken hands to cultivate
unshaken pride.

iv.
i bite my lip and taste my cursed lineage,
to the boy who told me
he loved my hooded asian eyes
and my asian nose, flat
and my asian skin, tan
but he’d surely fallen for my
spanish hips, the way they moved when i walked,
and my spanish lips, the way they moved when i talked.
another smiled at me, toothless,
tapped my nose,
grabbed me by my wrist and said
“round face.”

v.
i stand at the apex of the storm and bow my head
not in submission
but in respect.
and the resolution never comes.
i am still battling, tooth and
claw
against the tempest winds
of the sea i breathe in,
the dreamless, paradoxical society
smoke
and
mirrors
that twists and turns and seduces
the immigrant progeny: me.
white and red – bone and blood
and i stiffen my resolve
because
here is struggle
and i spent too much of my childhood being ashamed of this:
and i am still waiting for the moment the storm gives way
to the tribal warrior queen, painted white and red,
chanting in her native (foreign – un-American) tongue
to victory,
in the face of adversity.

vi.
pay homage to the asian warrior queen
caught in a spider’s web
struggling to break
free.
her crown is not yet
broken.

CajulisPicISABEL CAJULIS is a 17 year-old woman of color living in New York City, as well as an aspiring writer/poet/neurological physician. She is also interested in activism and social justice.

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