Friday, November 14, 2008
New Poem: Feverish Waters
It was a short question.
That took me to a moment
Where I had been before
I felt Like Denzel in déjà vu
But this time, I wanted to bite my tongue
Show the other cheek
Be the better person
But who really is nowadays?
It was a winter day
Not too cold or hot
In the sense that my essence
Had been sick with who knows what
Been lethargic like the babies with soiled diapers on TV after Katrina hit
I had been fighting that urge, that insanity that my mother had passed down to me
The neurotic feeling
obligation to take my kid to the doctor every time they sneezed
I thought I could bypass that genetic or social trait
But after spending two whole nights putting cold compresses on her head
Watching the fever rise like the water levels at the levy’s protecting New Orleans from the obvious
Watching the life of an exuberant child being drained slowly like the hope from the people trapped in houses that cnn could reach but not the authorities
We rushed her to the urgent care
Looking for some answers
Looking for some hope
And after, answering question, filling questionnaires, feeling her fever mix with my warmth and paying to be seen.
We were squeezed in to see a doctor when there was none
I felt gracious
Like when my people were being rescued off rooftops then being broadcasted live on channel 5, another episode of rescue 9/11
Magical realism in its purest form ready to be made into a live tv movie.
And as I carried her in my arms to the dr.’s exam room…the nursed asked me, “ was she born here?”
The question hit me so hard like the cold rushing water must have hit the human flesh when the levees broke and hope was gone.
Overwhelmed by drowning
I was trying to find a reason for her question
Trying to give her the benefit of the doubt
Maybe, Maybe it was a miscommunication
Maybe, maybe it was my misunderstanding
Maybe, maybe she thought she was adopted
Yes! That’s it! Uprooted from her homeland like the communities of color in New Orleans
You know, because her logic states that 2 brown parents should have brown children and not a light skin lil girl
Of course reinforcing
The racial norms that state that 1 brown parent + 1 brown parent= always brown baby.
But all the answers I created brought me back to the same question..
What the fuck did that have to do with her illness?
So I bit my tongue and grunted yes
But then, the complacement, the melting pot, Columbus. Pizarro, Cortez,
The zoot suit riots, bracero program, treaty of Guadalupe hidalgo. La noche triste, Tupac Amaru, Ruben Salazar, Cesar Chavez, Jesus unjust death by the gun, The MPD, SPD and RPD who taught me that brown kid in beanies and ford ltd’s means DWB citation.
Flashed before my dark brown eyes and my thoughts were magnified as they ran through my head
As fast as FEMA said that everything would be under control
And the young boy who was shot by border patrol or a border vigilante cried out for me
And the playback of the newsreel of the study that pawlenty had stated that illegal immigrants were stealing health benefits.Bullshit!
The studies stating that undocumented families were a tax burden for the ER’s everywhere
Made me wonder if the part they gave to john leguizamo was another taste of tokenism
Made me wonder if this was cheech marin’s message in born in east L.A.
The times I was called spic
The times I was used for tokenism
Made me split my tongue and respond in an angry manner a la kanye West…what does that have to do with anything?
As she nervously tried to tell me that it was a question they asked everyone…I had been on the offensive
Broken her comfort level
As the burning from my wife’s eyes told me that this was a battle not worth starting.
I fought within myself
Embracing that borderland culture that is my identity
Trying to answer that curse of a question
That makes question everything that happens to me and forces me to ask
Did I get this because I deserve this or because I fulfill some personal quota?
Did Olmos have right when he said, “we have to be more Americans then the Americans”
And my thoughts left me and landed in NO where people were asking the same question…is it because…I live here…that this is happening to me….gentrification..by natural disaster.
Where the motto to protect and serve is only delivered by hummers
And delivery of forgotten promises are found inside body bags
And the question still remains, still needs answers like the lost souls swept up in the feverish waters.