Monday, March 23, 2009

Who Am I?

Jesus Cortez

Who am I?
Well my name would not
answer that question.
To think such a thing could
define someone as me
would mean that a prisoner
is no more than a number,
so you might wonder
and ponder on why my name;
I did not choose it, first or last.
You might cross yourself
as I walk by in mockery,
or ask if I spell it with an "s"
or a "z" – what difference does
it make, if I ache from the pain
of not knowing my true name?
In another time, I might have
been Mexica, now I am "indio",
"mestizo" with a brand on my body,
not my hand or my back.
I’m no savior, I’m no "conquistador",
my name is as meaningless as
words made up by colonizers
to excuse their crimes.
I am more than my name may say--
as "nice" as it may be.
So I inherited the name of my "father’s"
father and probably someone else’s
father, and someone’s slave and someone’s
master. Oh what disaster to think
I am who I am, when I’m not who
they say. I like my other names much
more; as a boy even an insult sounded
much better than my name.
Torturous sounds of a teacher’s
pronunciation, and my indignation –
it’s not Gee-zus, it’s JESUS,
it’s not Cor-tayz, it’s Cortez; and me
foolishly telling them it was in Spanish,
when how "Spanish" am I really.
I am more than my name, a name
that confines me to be a half-breed.
I am the son of the colonized and the bastard
of the colonizer, branded with fire
upon my brain, to think I am who
I have been told I am –
Jesus Cortez

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