Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 2 • Summer 2002 • Featured Writer • Poetry

Magdalena

Emanuel Xavier

Mami/I remember your dyed blonde hair/your milky white skin/your really bad accent/your small stature/the violent outbursts/pointing out the negatives in me/shuddering at the sound of your voice/the sound of your anger/your fist/never too far away

Your words/stabs/deep into my fatherless flesh/reminding me/always reminding me/that you were all I had/for a mother/for a father/my stepfather/your boyfriend/striking/the final blows/destroying me/as if he were my father/destroying you/as if he were your father

Mami/I remember happy times/things weren't always bad/there were times we would laugh about your leaving him/even though you'd soon take him back/they were brief lapses of happiness/before the cycle would begin again/I remember how proud you were of me/getting good grades/in spite of the abuse/even I was impressed/or was that repressed/in spite of all the pain/while you longed to be so strong/to deny your existence/the reality that we called home

I remember trips to Ecuador/Puerto Rico/Disney/Cancun/Cancun where you finally sensed something was wrong with me/that I had broken up with someone/but what was wrong with falling in love with another man/so what if he was HIV positive/so what if we had unsafe sex/so what if he was a crack addict/so what if he was cheating on me/so what/and what was wrong with then falling in love with an abusive drug dealer/what was wrong with falling in love with younger boys/older men/what was wrong with giving myself away to many men/many older men/the price was right/I needed a place to stay/you threw me out at sixteen/the piers get cold in the winter/what was wrong with wanting to be loved/with wanting to be in love/falling in love with all the wrong men/what was wrong with that

Mami/I remember returning home several years later/surviving the streets to reach nineteen/watching you grow tired and old/working all day at the factory/you never wanted to be a welfare mom/coming home to this misery/to throw some half-hearted dinner together/your boyfriend too old to lay a hand on me/on you/afraid to lock into the hatred in my eyes/remembering the time he fucked up and called you Magdalena-his mistresses name/that was the last time he laid a hand on you/the day I beat the shit out of him/the day he realized I would kill him if he evah touched you again/if he evah touched me again/ that way

I remember your stories about my real father/the one man I probably never slept with/that look in your eyes/that glow on your face/whenever you spoke of him/like you really truly deeply loved him/with all your heart/before he abandoned you/these are the times I understand your anger/your wrath/your hatred toward me/not that you want to/you can't help it/it hurts/your pain/every time you look into my face/and you see him

Mami/there were good times/I know there were good times/there were great times/but my memories hold prejudices too stubborn to leave me alone

I am still a child/I can still hear your boyfriend/not my stepfather/not my father/in the kitchen/rustling about like a rat in heat/eating away at his life/belching and farting for me to hear/to hate him/to feel his presence/cringing/every time the door unlocks and he enters/I want so much for him to die/to leave us alone/to stop invading my memories/to free me from this oppression/this white supremacy/this is my cross/my hatred toward white supremacy/not whites/supremacy/his white skin/his jokes about blacks/about negros/about cholos/about maricones/about cachaperas/he is latino/but he is white/I am trigueño/I am half Puerto Rican/my real father was Puerto Rican/they are his main hatred/those fuckin' boricuas/those fuckin' jibaros/he swears he is white/he can pass/yet his heart is darker than any skin/I want so much for him to die

Mami/I want to write you a happy poem/a loving poem/dedicate it to you/with all my heart and soul/but I can't Mami/it is Mother's Day/all I can think about is this pain/all I can think about is the last man that hurt me/all I know is anger/it is where everything comes from/every time I fall in love/I am reminded of this anger/it is my solace/it is my comfort/it is my peace/it is my strength in letting go

I reach out to touch my boyfriend/he pulls away/I ask to be held/he refuses/remains guarded/I share with him my story/he tells me I need therapy/pulls the sheets away from me/I fall asleep/wake up frozen/he is gone/gone to be with his Magdalena

Emanuel Xavier

Emanuel Xavier is the author of poetry collections Pier Queen and Americano and the novel Christlike, and he is the editor of Bullets & Butterflies: queer spoken word poetry. He is also the founder of the House of Xavier and creator of the annual Glam Slam competition. He has appeared on television as a host of In The Life, on Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry, and he has co-starred in the feature film The Ski Trip. He is a recipient of the Marsha A. Gomez Cultural Heritage Award and a New York City Council citation. Visit emanuelxavier.com for more.

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