today

today is a hard day

hard and crunching and cracked

like the gravel on that middle path

where you greeted me

 

 

today is a hard day

like Samson I thought I slept among friends

only to wake up alone

to a bald head and barren lands

 

 

today is a hard day

hard and crunching and cracked

the sound of my voice or

the sound your straw made as

you twirled it in your iced coffee

 

 

today is a hard day

you heard it in my cracked voice

as I crunched cool tears back behind my eyelids

to try and talk to you.

and you know and know and you always knew

what was really wrong

the din hidden just on the other side

of this round face and these painted lips

 

 

but you try and you try and you try

to tease to talk to treat

to coax away the voices

of my mom of my ex-boyfriend of all those people

those resounding words of exclusion

 

 

and today was a hard day

but the sun kissing our faces

brightened my day

and that scent of

honeysuckle and fresh water and sunshine on the mount

the sound of your voice

the blue of your eyes when they peer into mine

the warm soft safe place that is your embrace

these are what light these sunset eyes

and these are the air in my lungs

and these

the gold honey of your voice

the gentle grip of your hands

the way your face is filled with love when you smile

these are things which carry me

 

on days like today

when I am hard and cracked and crunching

like the gravel on middle path

on the day we first met

four years ago.

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disappointment

between us right now

this feeling, is like

that uncanny valley between hurt and rage

a place you’ve never walked

But is engraved with the footsteps

of men and women with round faces and high cheeks and brown skin

just like mine.

 

 

between us right now

this feeling, is like

the time I stepped onto an anthill

and a thousand brine lipped insects

poured forth and sank

their teeming mouths into my baby flesh

 

 

 

between us right now

this feeling, is like

the day I first stepped foot into the sea

And felt it, vicious

Bite back.

 

 

between us right now

this feeling, is like

that day working the makeup counter

when another latinx strode up to me and asked

if I could get her a foundation, one

“that didn’t make her look like an Indian”

as if we looking like our forefathers

looking Native

was the worst thing that could happen to us.

 

between us right now

this feeling, is like

every moment I’ve ever looked into blue eyes

and felt the void, gazing back.

 

between you and I right now

is every other gringo

with a sly mouth and cloudy eyes and hard jaw

so willing to say things to us

things like don’t worry or  you’re beautiful

or sometimes when I’m really lucky

And your mouth is dripping and your sharp teeth glistening

with want once again

to own worlds that aren’t yours

you even say things like I love you

 

And just like every other one of us

Struggling to breathe in the space between the wall and your body

I’ll sit there and I’ll smile and I’ll look into those frosted eyes

every next time the next person

with your skin and your eyes and your privilege

mentions what they think Caitlyn Jenner’s real name should be

or how the latest fascist isn’t really problematic or

how much our feelings don’t matter

or at least, they don’t matter enough to you

to keep you from sliding into the next white feminist

with DIY bangs and bad excuses

 

 

between us right now

this feeling, is like

the vast expanse between our lives

where you loving us is always optional

and we have to love you, just to survive.

 

 

 

 

on the late night

All Father, father of my family

the start of everything I am and the end of everything I ever will be

sometimes

I think of you

late at night when I’m trapped in White Man’s Land

 

I think of everything that I’ve done

the friendships carefully crafted

the books I’ve read

book spines peeled open from reading

all the essays that these hands

hands made in your image

have written.

 

I think of the family that I left behind

in that far away city

like when you would leave Mother Creation

in that little house of white adobe

while you lead men and cattle through the great north.

 

Sometimes I am struck with thinking

in that red clay where you and

Mother Creation

formed this face and this body

round and strong

like a clay pot filled with pure water.

 

I think of all the things I’ve made

of all the things unmade

of the hate that some have for me

of the love of others save for me

 

I think of the words formed

on this mouth that’s a carbon copy of your own

these lips that confront the impossibilities of being

and not being

here in the north.

 

Sometimes I am struck with thinking

all the sunlit day and the cool night

of

this Mexican blood

this Chicana voice, high pitched and loud

this indigenous body

broad and brown and bold

 

Sometimes when I see myself

reflected in those blue eyes

of pale face men who swear

that they love me they love me they love me

my skin enlaced

with that blue tinge

like Malintzin

when she was between the arms

of he who toppled Moctezuma

 

All Father,

 

when I get to thinking

I lay there and I ask myself

Are you proud of me?

 

 

 

 

pensamientos

Papa Grande, padre de mi familia

el comienso de todo lo que soy y todo lo que sere

a veces

pienso de ti

en las noches aqui atrapada in gringolandia

 

pienso en todo lo que he hecho

las amistades que he formado

los libros que he leido

los ensayos que estos manos

formado en tu imagen

han escrito.

 

pienso en la familia que  he abandonado

en un pueblo lejano

como cuando tu dejabas a Mama Concepcion

en esa casita de adobe blanca

mientras tu cabalgabas por el Norte.

 

A veces me quedo pensando

en esa tierra rojiza donde tu y

Mama Concepcion formaron

Esta cara y este cuerpo

redondeada y fuerte

como un jarro de agua pura.

 

Pienso en todo lo que he hecho

en todo lo desecho

en el desprecio que me tienen unos y

el amor que me tienen otros

 

Pienso en esas palabras

formaron en esta boca parecida a la tuya

que enfrentan imposibilidades

de ser o no ser

aqui en el Norte.

 

A veces me quedo pensando todo el santo dia y

toda la noche entera

en esta sangre Mexicana

esta voz Chicana aguda y feroz

este cuerpo indigena

ancho y marron y magnifico

 

A veces cuando me miro

reflejada en esos ojos azules

de hombres palidos que juran

que me aman que me aman que me aman

mi piel envuelta

en esa tinta azulada

semejante Malintzin

cuando estubo entre esos brasos

Que tumbo a Moctezuma

 

A veces en esto me quedo pensando, Papa Grande,

Y me pregunto

¿Estas orgullosa de mi?

soft

please please please

can we talk? can I

bare you my square teeth in full grimace

suck in my body til I collapse

like a dying star?

 

I know I know I know

you

lift me up you are

the rock on which I stand the

reason for everything I am

 

please please please

just hold me once more

even if I

don’t

deserve you.

 

I know I know I know

your migraines don’t touch the

heartache

just ignore

the bruises the torn hair the ring

just

 

please please please

hold me in

that strong

grip, that warm crush of

two bodies together from disparate continents that

soft warmth

that wraps around me

like the ocean

like golden sun at the mountaintop

like the desert sand around my feet

let me breath in that scent

soft blue and sunlight like your eyes.

 

I know I know I know

we always end up here

tears on someone’s face

I know I know I know

the way

my makeup stains when

we remember what your

forefathers stole from mine

just

 

please please please

just like that first spring

when you saw me smiling

dancing

when my eyes watered and glossed

the image of you untwining

the flower from my mat of hair

when those thick curls didn’t bother

your hardened hands when

you first held this clay body;

 

just please please please

I know I know we know

soon it’ll be the last

but just one more

soft sweet sound

of your arms wrapped around me

before we’ll never be the same again.

 

 

 

 

 

A Kenyon Homecoming (Undergraduate Thoughts on an International Conference)

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Note from Drew: This is a guest post from Toby SantaMaria ’17, a senior in the Kenyon Biology Department. In the Kerkhoff Lab, Toby studies forest carbon cycles. She is also is lab social media tsar and an indefatigable lab TA. 


593c5603-5863-47ce-846a-14913ccf166f In January, I was blessed to be taken to the 2017 biennial  International Biogeography So ciety Conference  —which happened to be in my hometown of Tucson, Arizona. I went as a member of Dr.Kerkhoff’s macroecology lab at Kenyon College to co-present a poster with Dr.Kerkhoff. We presented on how Kenyon’s Ecology Lab class used R and some publicly available databases (like GBIF ) to teach undergraduates how to make species distribution models . If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a model that uses climatic and animal occurrence data to tell you where your animal of choice will or will not find favorable habitat based on climate, whether today or at…

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ugly crying, pretty reasons

its that feeling when you’re in rehearsal

with people that you used to know

when the room is too bright and your clothes too hot

and you can feel your throat close up

when you’re struggling to hit those low alto notes

But then in that dark resonance of song

reverberations hot and heavy in the cartilage of your chest

its almost like sophomore year again

walking to rehearsal in pouring rain

after hours trapped in an ivory tower

to be surrounded for once by people who look and act and talk like you

when you can drop the veneer of respectability and

flex the muscles and the accent formerly incapacitated by its sheen

 

It’s when you sing your favorite song again

words dead in your head for years

suddenly reanimated

as your vocal cords resonate

with sounds and people and memories

And love, so warm,

that you can’t help but ugly cry.

And its as those tears cut off the sound in your throat

and the pianist looks at you

as those globular tears

spill over your chin to the vast expanse of your chest

to darken the stripes on your dress

that you remember why you’re here.