Photo: © Stefan Hengst. All rights reserved.

To be Latina means that I will never be bland.
It’s like the difference between mofongo and mashed potatoes
or lechon asado and a sautéed pork cutlet.
Can white rice trump arroz moro?
Some people call it sazon, spicy, hot and full of flavor.

To be Latina is to watch our natural curves co-opted by
gringas who learn our moves, pick over our bold lip colors,
perm their hair into wild curls and whisper “papi damelo” to
Latin lovers who prize that which they are told they shouldn’t have,
to men too blind to appreciate the real deal.

Go ahead, try to co-opt this essence, watch the cooking channel to get our recipes.
Hang out in clubs, befriend the Marias and Rosarios
who will introduce you to their brothers and cousins and yes, even their boyfriends
later wondering why the pendejo left them for you.

Go ahead, call me mulata, mestiza, morena, trigueña,
piel canela the fusion of Eurocentric colonialism and Indios y Negros.
This is an amalgam sometimes of the best or worst of our ancestors,
depends on your point of view.

I have a special prism through which I see the world and everyone around me.
No all white flower garden for me, throw every color in the rainbow into the mix.
I plant a multi-hued garden, a riot of blues, reds, oranges, purples
all cushioned by shades of green.

Lourdes A. Gautier, a poet and writer of fiction and non-fiction, was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and raised in New York City where she earned a Masters degree in Theatre and post graduate credits in a doctoral program at the City University of New York (CUNY) focusing on Latin American Theatre. She has taught courses in acting and theatre history and criticism at CUNY, Drew University, and Jersey City State University, and language arts in a special grant funded program at Rutgers University. Her short story “1952” was published in Acentos Review. Her poems have appeared in Calliope Magazine, Dying Dahlia Review as well as in the Silver Birch Press All About My Name, and My Perfect Vacation series, among others. She was a featured poet at Second Saturdays at Cyrus, hosted by Terri Muss and Matt Pasca. She is currently working on a collection of poems and stories. Her writing focuses on the issues of identity as an Afro-Latina, the many faces of love (romantic and familial), and saudade or anhelo, a longing for a place to call home.

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Issue 7

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