May 17, 2012

America—Verse One. ~ Kayla Quinlan Frawley

Photo courtesy of Kayla Quinlan Frawley.

As if she was a woman. Not standing nor sitting but dancing.

What are you doing mija?”
Dancing with America”
America me ensenó mami”

She is not embarrassed by her plunder,
By the amount of rape done onto her.

Her skin is rough,
But broken,
Wrinkled at a young age.

You imagine her pores,
Large and oozing.
You imagine the flesh on her back,
Beautifully scarred,
Long discolored tissue protruding from the older flesh,
The older flesh that looks younger now.

The skin on her shoulders barely carries her arms,
Which are swollen with muscle and attached to forearms the size of her calves.

Dedos puffed and glossy
Always shiny with oil,
Or lard,
Or Manteca,
Or blood.

A strong kind of Gorda,
The most feminine part is the cuello,
Long and supportive in a delicate way.

It is this sensual aspect that carries her head,
Long ear lobes that sag from the years of royalty
That neither she,
Nor her grandmother seem to remember,
Days far away from today of wearing jade and gold.
She now wears holes in her ears with no desire to prove glamorous.

Though her oídas puss with infection.
Centuries of trying to listen,
Listening to remember,
Listening to fight,
Listening to preserve.
Her ears are tired.
Unlike her.

She lives with constant deprivation of rest,
Not sleep,

Pero mama ya no tengo sueño.”
Pero tienes que soñar, pues duérmete.

Her hair is beautiful,
Whether it be black,
Or silver.
Without wave,
Her hair is absolutely and profoundly beautiful just as it is.
Tell her children to honor their hair.

Depending on the time of day she may have one eye open.
Tal vez
you may imagine she only has one eye.
She reserves the other one.
It was stolen she says,
Often you can see the membrane behind the eye-lid.
Depending on what story you ask her to tell the eye-lid opens more and more.
And the inside of her face can be seen.

But the one eye she has,

The kind of profundo that scares and excites you,
The longer you look the more you will see,
La guerra, la violencia, la opresión,

Words we make up to explain her kind of experience
But words that to her have lost complete meaning.
Inside her eye you see fire and humor, and food.
Inside her eye you see pain,
Excruciating pain,
A wine opener in your ribcage pain,
A bullet through your foot pain,
A labor during rape pain,
The death of your child pain,
The murder of your husband pain,
The transmission of inter-generational trauma pain,
The development of PTSD pain,
The destruction of your home pain,
The rape of all your women pain,
Including your sisters,
And excuse me,
The rape of your grandmother and the powerful women that came before her.
The demolition of the support of the family pain,
The enslavement of your men pain,
The making a disgrace of your men pain,
Spitting on your dead husband pain,
Pissing on the body of your dead father pain.

You barely taste her pain,
It’s a numbing pain,
One that no one understands like her pain.

She wears it as a part of life.
For her it is no longer pain it is her legacy.

She does not sit
Nor stand
But dances in this legacy.

She moves without reason at times knowing that one of her children
Who have ran away,
Left to look for work,
Migrated with or without desire,
Went to look for medicine for her,
Was kidnapped,
Stolen in a box,
Put in chains,
Moves in constant discomfort to feed the extended family,
At a certain part of the day
One child may be listening
Or want to listen.
One child far away,
The greatest greatest greatest grandchild wants to watch.

No matter where her information will go,
No matter if her story will be written for the glory of others,
For the development of a Hollywood movie,
For the selling of sick products that have materialized her history,
No matter,
No la importa,
One will want to listen,
One may want to write
One paint,
One act,
One dance
And with honor express their great great-great-grandmothers history.
As thousands
Even millions of her children have.

So she continues to move,
Without fault,
Not missing a beat,
Or with shoes,
Or tight jeans.
She dances better then anyone you know,
And she doesn’t dance to show off
She dances to show you how movement and expression is her liberation,
Her form of living.
At the drop of a hat,
She eats beats,
Feet unattached to the body,
Hips moving their own dimension,

Her movements are limitless,
Her dimension is beyond us.

And often she dances more than a day,
More than two,
Sometimes more than three when she needs to.
She loses herself in her trance speaking with those that have taught her.
She has el poder.

She will continue to dance,
Moving her hips no matter how old her bones have become,
No matter how long her heart has lived.
Her history has set fire to her internal anatomy,
Literally and figuratively.

It is not by choice,
Nothing ever was.
It is by soul and puro espírito that she dances,
Like a trance.
Of course she breaks every now and then to almorzar.

There is no technology to measure her pain,
Her fire,
Her passion,
How many tortillas she has made,
How many milpas she has cultivated,
How many braids she has braided.
How many sons she has lost,
How many sons made of steel with hearts of gold she has produced,
How many brilliant artists her history has inspired,
How many daughters she has taught,
How many pictures have been taken of her children,
Or their homes,
Or their trash cans and their neighborhoods,
How many symphonies of music her roots have inspired,
How many forms of art run through her veins,
How many movements of pure expression has been seen in her forms of dance,
How many colors of skin define her people,
How many people have fallen in love with her daughters.
There is no way to measure,
The poder she has passed to her people,
The humor they have,
The stories they tell,
The songs they write,
The pictures they paint
The books they produce
The food they cook
The mountains they cultivate
The campo they defend and reclaim and are enslaved to.
There is no way to measure,
For this reason,
She will survive forever.


Kayla Q. Frawley is a sister, daughter, teacher, student, dancer, capoeirista, and yogini always in support of the expression of others through art, language, education, and culture. Watching her people from the internal and external point of view. Encouraging and supporting her brothers and sisters from Minneapolis to Philly to Berkley and Oakland, Las Cruces, El Paso, from the streets and ghettos of the US to Ciudad Juarez, to the campesinos of Central America and the Peteneras in Guatemala, to the Artists and Writers from the deep south, to the Zapatistas everywhere. Check out where she is teaching, or if you crave the gift of sharing: www.facebook.com/ms.kaylafrawley.


Editor: Jeannie Page

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