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By Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro

When I was eight years old
I was already astute
a smart worm
a perceptive cactus
who knew at that point
that during school recess
in order to prevent
my classmates jokes about my hair
my skin color
mis bembas grandes
big lips
big hips
I must get into the bathroom
to hide
or to picnic there
to write novels
to talk to my imaginary friends
there were many
to laugh
to recite poems
to practice what I was taught in class
to review the math test
to fancy the teacher
and imagined she was my girlfriend
to conclude my science project
to inhale the albuterol medicine
for my asthma attacks
to cough
to perform an invisible kiss
waiting for it to happen
I learned to see my world
stuck in that bathroom
of Colegio San Vicente Ferrer
spent many years making this place my den
my cave
my hideaway

I also knew
that once sat in class
if Mrs. Guzmán mentioned the word "Africa"
while teaching Social Studies
I was supposed to wear a stoic mask
pretend it did not happen
assume an I do not care attitude
thereby obviate the long awaited reaction
of José Manuel or Eliseo
or anyone else who joined in the harassment
there was always the cry proclaiming funny
Yolanda, you are African!
you are so black
so ugly black
so bembetrueno
big lips thunder
big hip hurricane
while the teacher tried to scold the commotion
(silent children
show respect for others
remember that God punishes without rod and no whip)
while she tried to implement bullying policies
that have not yet been invented
by 1978
I learned during those hard years
to stand up for my roots



mdorton's picture

great poem!

Yolanda: beautiful poem! Really powerful. Post more! xoxox megan

Nusrat Ara's picture

Beautiful and so touching.

Beautiful and so touching. Thanks for sharing.



Fatima Waziri's picture

Thank you for sharing this

Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem, I very much enjoyed reading it


Sarvina's picture

Many thanks for your a lovely

Many thanks for your a lovely and interesting poem! I do love reading yours. Hope you share more of your poems to us! We are here waiting to hear it!




Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

LauraB's picture

stand up for my roots

Yolanda, Writing is clearly part of your standing tall...your words are strong. Deeply implanted in your roots, your written words are astute.

I was enthralled with your poem and experience.


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