by Leticia Hernández-Linares
Our skin and hair legitimized only by war,
the professor of history explains.
Suddenly I am content rich, boasting validated facts,
dates, and legitimate battles. War as identity–
my expertise, despite my inexperience.
I embody what so many survived,
the only marker despite my distance.
You are the troubled little country
with possible concrete, and civility, to the south.
Born foreign–––to live nationless. If you
are not a refugee, you do not get a box, certainly
not of us. Growing up a body wrapped in two
languages, without singular origin, I often let
the curve and angle of other’s questions
knock me off balance. Steady on the third rail
that no one owns, no one overpowers,
my acrobatic prowess proposes to
surpass cartographic limitation.
“Wars of nations are fought to change maps.
But wars of poverty are fought to map change.”
Leticia Hernández-Linares is a poet, interdisciplinary artist, educator, and author of Mucha Muchacha, Too Much Girl (Tía Chucha Press, 2015). Widely published, her work has appeared in newspapers, literary journals, and anthologies, some of which include: U.S. Latino Literature Today, Street Art San Francisco, Pilgrimage, and Crab Orchard Review. She has performed her poemsongs throughout the country and in El Salvador. A three-time San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Awardee, she lives, works, and writes in the Mission District, San Francisco—20 years strong.
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