Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Back In The Day

A few weeks ago, Tom went up into our "attic" and brought down some items for me to look at. One of these items was a notebook of poems. I had forgotten about this notebook and it was like a "Back to the Future" experience while reading it!!

I remember wanting to be a poet when I was younger but I was so afraid of sharing my poems with anyone. My senior year of high school, we had to enter a local poetry contest as part of our AP English grade. The thought of writing something and submitting to strangers made me want to throw up. I asked my teacher to review three poems that I was considering for submission and she immediately tossed out the two I had hoped she would consider "winners".

My teacher chose the poem that I hadn't really wanted anyone to see but for some reason, had given her to read. She sat across from me, looked at me with tears in her eyes, and passionately told me that this was the poem that was going to win the contest.

Guess what?? My teacher was right. My poem won the Third Annual Young Writers Bilingual Poetry Contest!! As the winner of the contest, I was invited to read my winning poem and two others at the Tuscon Performing Arts Center on the last day of the Tucson Poetry Festival. I also had the honor of meeting Jimmy Santiago Baca and he told me I had a gift. ME!!! A gift!!! There are no words!!!

That was over 10 years ago and I had put that experience and writing poetry aside! But reading my poem reminded of how much I enjoyed myself that day and how proud of myself I was.

I'd like to share that winning poem with you - I hope that it touchs you on some level.


I rub the washcloth on my skin
Harder and harder
My skin raw
But I can not stop
I look at my dark brown stomach
The color is still there
Tears begin to well in my eyes
They fall on my cheeks
Brown cheeks
I rub harder
"Why won't it come off?"
I can't get it off
I am certain I am white underneath
I am like the blonde headed girl
Who called me nigger
I have her color somewhere
I must find it
Wring out the washcloth
Turn off the scalding hot water
Dry off my body
My skin is still brown
My efforts in vain
I walk by the mirror
I do not want to see
The dirty, ignorant black girl
That the blonde headed girl sees


  1. girl!!!!!! BEAUTIFUL!
    i too,wanted to be a poet in HS but was too chicken to let others read my deeper thoughts..later in college i submitted an anomynous poem and was actually published....
    nice way to step back in time

  2. Okay. I have chills that WILL NOT LEAVE.

    I suck with words in general... but I am completely okay with that! :)

  3. This is absolutely beautiful. I definitely remember feeling that way growing up. But what beautiful and strong women we have grown to be!

    I hope that you'll begin to write poetry again...you definitely have a gift!

  4. Beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing it with us. And you do, indeed, have a gift.

  5. That is so impressive. Wow. Made me tear up.

  6. Girl, you need to dig more out. Let the world hear your words! You truly know how to paint the picture.


  7. Beautiful. You have a gift, please continue to share it with us.