Abuelita

In 1986 I was blessed with breath, Biracial birth bread beauty y borders, Black hair, black eyes brown pride resides birthed from my insides…
This is for my Abuelita and my Bisabuela (Julia)

1.
In 1986 I was blessed with breath
Biracial birth bread beauty y borders
Black hair, black eyes brown pride resides birthed from my insides
Even when the hair and eyes faded I carried our name like a shield on my chest
Though I could not read the crest
Gramma I wanted to learn our language
Wanted to speak to your mother softly before I slept
Instead I wept
Lamenting lost lines of poetry in my sleep as our language was kept
Secret
You know how she is
Your first prayer always went to your daughter in law
Dad did what he could to keep the peace
Planted seeds knowing one day I’d harvest my own crops
And place them at the altar at your feet
In honor of our ancestors

2
Abuelita please forgive me for I knew not what I was saying
My mother fed me lies instead of dinner
I drank racism instead of water
In my heart I knew better
But at 6 years old I thought I was clever
I thought if I hated you she’d stop hatin me
In turn, I’d finally see safety
She beat the white into me hopin the brown would bleed out

3.
Julia
They say I am your spirit embodied.
They say I walked alone like you.
We all inherited your strength and your nose
God must of stretched your skin over my bones
Maybe that’s how I made it here alive
When chaos rained down like pesticide I heard your whisper
Felt your eyes on my heart willing it to beat
As I struggled to move my feet
Thank you
I’m runnin now hopin to keep the familia up to speed

4.
Abuelita you always carried dreams
No matter the weight or cost
You wrapped our family tightly in corn husks
And nestled us safely in your palm like rosary beads
Offered them as daily bread to the Creator
Let’s face it
No man could hold your spirit like He could
Couldn’t keep your heart like He could
There is no solitude in true faith
He always gave you a little more than enough to walk with
Doctors prepped for a battle with inevitable
A family collectively held its breath
And faced the moon for answers
As the sun was too bright to ask
Women everywhere clutch their breast in recognition
When you’re 80 it’s not a genetic condition
Gramma it took half of you
But I was blessed with breath when you came through
Maybe one day we’ll combat pesticide with more than faith.

5.
You have always been my hero
I loved you before I knew you because I felt you
Somewhere your mother is sitting reunited with your father smiling
Proud of the foundations you built from clay
That will last our family well after I’m gone
You have lived
Lived amongst whispers
Lived in fields with the sun as your father
Lived in spite of murder forcing a matriarchal family
Lived in your father’s memory carrying his name
Oh how you’ve lived
Your melody crafts a rhythm of remedy for the family
But where will we dance once you’ve fallen?
Names become fuzzy
English forgotten
Memories become clouds of cotton mashing into a blue sky
Masking the sun
Your smile rare like raindrops on our Tejas soil
Gramma I can’t watch your mind crumble like my heart
My time and space ripped apart
Abuelita I don’t care if you forget my name
I just want you to remember Julia’s flame
You carry the legacies y culturas of both the Ovalle and Solis families in your bones
Tell me the stories
Teach me the dreams so I can memorize my destiny
I will carry this family like your legacy
I will be your memory
This poem is my harvest
Let me lay it at your feet.

Paz y amor
Diana Ovalle is a Muslim poet from the Bay Area.

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