finding and pambana

[re]claiming revolutionary musings

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I Was Not Supposed to Remember

the smell of geraniums

what perfume penetrates nostrils not grown

from a bottle ‘n’ mother’s wrists ‘n’ just a dab

behind each ear I was not supposed to remember her ears

like mine, the earlobe without lobe really

the mole that marked her


I was not supposed to remember being she

the daughter of some other Indian some body some where

an orphaned child somewhere somebody’s

cast-off half-breed I wasn’t

supposed to remember the original rape.

I wasn’t supposed to remember

my whitedaddy and baby’s cry

my white father’s own orphanhood.

I was never to see my self reflected

in the cold steel frightened fluttering

I was not intended

to marry that man.

I am a woman, childless

and I teach my stories to other
[p. 99]

childless women and somehow

the generations will propagate and prosper

and remember pre-memory

remember rose gardens thorn-pricked thumbs digging

into well-watered southern california soil kissing

the edge of steaming black-top

what is there left to remember

of those days

what is there left

to dirt How is it I remember

dirt when I grew up on asphalt?

How is it dirt means so much to me?

What is there to remember in a tree?

a tree

thoroughly tree

I, thoroughly hybrid

mongrel/mexicanyaqui/oakie girl.

"Yaquioakie" holds all the world

I knew as it shaped my abuela’s lips

calling in my breed-brother

thorough-bred primo,

sandy wool y pelos de indio

bent over bowls of albóndigas soup.

[p. 100]

Mongrel is the name

that holds all the animal I am.

My legs split open straddling

the examination table she tells me

your fibroid ain’t no watermelon

just the size of a small navel orange

and I consider this sphere of influence

steadily growing behind my own navel

little satellites of smaller fibroids

floating inside its citric orbit.

I imagine the color/the taste of fruit/the bitterness

of peel and pleasure there is pleasured familiarity

as she moves her dark safe-sexed-gloved hand

up inside me a lesbian gesture

I, a lesbian monster

she recommends hormones

have you always been this hairy

yes, I say, I remember since I became a woman

with hair lots of it does that make a woman

or a lesbian

or an animal?

which brings me back to mongrel

and the hybrid sheep-goat I saw

in a magazine once

with pitiful pleading eyes

trying to bust out

of her genetically altered face
[p. 101]

and I saw my face in there

no matter how much I am loved

no matter how much woman

I am no matter how many women

hold and suck me

I am mirrored in those pitiful


product of mutation


I Was Not Supposed to Remember, by Cherríe Moraga. In The Last Generation, by Cherríe Moraga. (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1993).

Filed under Cherríe Moraga Poetry [Re]membering Stolen people Stolen land poetry for remembering

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