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Latinx Salud Poems:  An Inaugural Collection

Daily Burden

There are days when I feel the weight of every student of color,
              every colleague working in this Ivory Tower.
I feel the need, the responsibility, to lighten their load.
I feel the need to clear a path so that they don’t feel the pain that I have felt,
              the insecurity, the anxiety and the depression.
I feel that my body wears, collects and holds these pains:
              broken bones, torn ligaments, aching back, migraines,
              fat deposited over my vulnerabilities.


My journey has been long and filled with self-doubt,
              mental and physical pain, buried too often in bad decisions, strong drink,
              frijoles y tortillas, and have too often sheltered in emotional dead zones.
Nobody asked me to bear this burden; nevertheless, it has driven me,
              motivated me and cost me.


I see the need in the eyes and bodies of each and every student
              that sat before me, tears in their eyes; tears of fear, frustration and betrayal.
Shoulders bowed low from their own burdens, to their family,
              to their community and, at long last, to themselves.


Experience shows that we are just so much fodder for the Ivory Tower;
              to assure our self-identified “allies” that they “have made room”,
              to prove that they are not the ‘ists that we know they are,
              to verify that they are indeed intellectually superior,
              that they will save us from ourselves.
This, too, is our burden.


I don’t see many around me to help with this burden.
Isolation and frustration are my daily companions.
When I left Iowa, it was the eyes and the tears of students,
              black, brown, immigrant, to whom I represented an assurance
              that they could have a place here,
              that all their sacrifice might someday be worth it.


In too many eyes, I saw betrayal for what they saw as abandonment.
I fear they may have been right,
              that I promised something that I could not have delivered.

Jan 2019



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