PARDON ME, YES PLEASE, NO THANK YOU

 

Fear that I will muddle my manners. Fear that I will matter little. Fear that I will dither like a biddie, bobble like a budgie. Fear of being sidelined like a sideshow. Fear of ageing, fear of raging, fear of plagiarizing parables. Fear of valuables, of valuing dreck. Fear of being fearful, being feared, of being fearless when my fear would better serve. Fear of being ignorant, imposing, closing down all apertures, of curating suburbia. Fear of verbiage. Fear of loosening the white tongue on my snow-white sneakers, no, the sneak tongue of my snow-white sisters, no, the cis tongue of the norm gifters who say who’s what, who’s who. Fear of you. Fear of failing all my foremothers of mothering the forefathers of mucking in their mess. Miedo de perder mi niñez. Fear of passing, fear of passing on my passive posture, posturing, of pandering, of putting airs on top of sentiment, fear of sediment cementing.

.

ON WHAT DAY

do we sour
……………….// sweat and glands

by hormones // sullied
……………….the girls’ shower

at Mary Hoge Junior High
……………….where I wore // clothes

under my clothes
……………….afraid // to be naked

in public
……………….lest puberty // name me

clean no more
………………………………..// spoiled

what I’d seen
……………….what I’d heard // touched

the cousin who // pushed
……………….from his lap

naming me too old
……………….for that kind // of play

on what day do we // cross
……………….my own children // dirty

have lied to me
……………….punched //

on purpose
……………….// explored each other’s

privates
……………….and yet //wondrous

Emily Pérez is the author of House of Sugar, House of Stone and the chapbooks Backyard Migration Route and Made and Unmade. A CantoMundo fellow, her poems have appeared in journals including SWWIM, Copper Nickel, Poetry, Diode, and RHINO. She teaches English and Gender Studies in Denver, where she lives with her husband and sons. She can be found at www.emilyperez.org.