i’m 27, give or take a century and this is cisgender and thin privilege come forth beneath the white gay(ze)*

cupped in a memory of a month ago,
i inhabit an hour where each breath i
took served the purpose of fodder for a
deep analysis of the width of my ass

neither the afro, nor the latina
migrated below my waistline, sick of
the fiery catalyst of displacement
caused by a tongue that rolls,
chose sad over sass and
cry over crass,
chose, i belong and
will stay right here,
over more loss

although why this protest
must happen on the landscape
of my body, i do not know,
however,

somewhere, in the kreyol
speaking depths of my
woken steps, an ancestor
spoke to me in a language
i immediately translated
to English (although the
sound of perpetually nearing death
and compassion sound the same
in any language
) and asked me,
“whose eyes were mine?”

i said, m’pa konnen, i lost track
in the eyes of a white latina,
needed to be the kind of black
she would shape, herself. needed to be
pixelated latina, crafted in cubic iotas,
projected malleable, mechanic,
and body prescripted.

i said, m’existe nan miwa, men
i needed the authenticity of all
afrolatina womanhood to match
myriad ways of whiteness, i needed
the afrolatina experiences of my
shape to be fully fleshed out
and seen behind the scene
san the sole purpose of being
pulled like pork for the devouring
and cookie-cutter desirings,
i waited to be full madivinez.

ancestor said,
this is the 21st century,
why are you still
gorged on asks
to live white gaze free?

i told her i wanted an ass.

i said, moun blan pa we k’em femn.
i said, mwen on madivinez ki paka
nwa, et fenm an meme temps.

i said, a white woman told me
she faces sexism, like i
never have. like i wasn’t
at that exact moment.
like my womanhood
wasn’t being denied
because of my
blackness
(kankou k’om pat
bezwen forme nan jan spesific,
pou fenm pou ou
.)

and i told her m’transle sa’w di’m
an angles, epi li d’im m’fe ke’l fe
mal. mwen di’l ke’m fe mal, tou,
mwen vle konnen ki moun mwen ye
san zye moun blan ki fe k’om brule
.

she said, ou pedi?

I said, not anymore.

-Stevie Ambroise

*Lately I’ve been fascinated by how the white gaze makes it harder for brown people to exist in their bodies, but also what my momentary desires to make myself look “more like a woman” says about my cis-privileges and thin privileges, and how my looking into that seems to come up only when my body is being scrutinized and questioned, as if that’s even remotely the same thing as what trans and fat people face. Even in this poem, which has a lot of tough honesty for me, in terms of body image, there’s so much hypocrisy. I am the oppressor here, too.

I’m also interested in how those moments when I like a white person and want to have that specific media perpetuated afrolatina body, what does that do in terms of my connection to my culture, where I’m choosing white approval over who i am?

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Crossing

i arose at five, peeled
a banana and hung it above your
raising lids

you got your first menses when
the moon was waning       it was
critical to rerun
your growth as the moon
carved itself away
into a fingernail

like the one you used last night
to dig deep the layers of your left arm
and excavate your father’s remains
       last night, when shed blood meant triumph

i wanted to show you when blood really meant triumph,
how both your mother’s and your father’s inside you
mean triumph because
       you are so magnificently beautiful

beneath the glow of this peeled waning moon
beneath the shift and slide of uterus walls
beneath slit abdomen and abnormal men

my too tightly pressed coal,
my thunder struck sand,
my moving breath, foreign to warmth

my thousand reflections of me

the sun does not have to rise just yet,
we’re going to harness this darkness
for 14 more minutes we’ll savor

our womanhood, when we once bore it
like a bad smell,       (i started crossing
my legs at 4
) our insides,

once Gehenna and Paradise; how it hurt
to burn and bare and bear humanity.

(i started crossing my legs at 4,
crossing the self in prayer,
crossing the self for salvation,
crossing the self to deny
shelter to the Devil
)

i saw the Devil anyways
           but did not bleed
and now, here we are
and the sun rises

i’ll savor my womanhood, we’ll savor
our womanhood,
and the sun rises
and you are brilliant
       beneath the glow

– Stephanie Ambroise