By Mylina Baez
after “Letter to the Ceo of Ancestry” by Shankar Narayan
They say to measure everything.
Be sure to read the instructions correctly.
1/4 White, an American European mutt.
3/4 Mexican, a mixture of indigenous bloodlines and Spanish bloodshed.
To people around me I’m made of water and oil.
I can’t roll my “R’s”, but I can speak with a sharp tongue soaked in
an accent that’s a border away.
To friends, I’m too white, barely carrying my language on my shoulders.
To white people, I’m too Mexican, they give me looks, ask me,
“Why don’t you go back to where you came from?”
I’m from Seattle.
It’s about an 11 mile walk from where I live now.
If they cared to measure.
But people don’t seem to follow recipes anymore.
No matter how much you direct them, teach them, offer them lessons.
They still do it by sight.
They see the tint of my skin, browning and rising towards the heat.
They hear the bachata blaring through my headphones,
But they also hear the quiver of my voice when I croak out a “Yo no se.”
The desperate look I wear when I get lost in translation.
To them my measurements don’t add up.
Will I warm into a rising apple pie?
Or will I ooze like a piece of tres leche?
But I’m both, I wear a peasant blouse y huaraches.
I sing of the star-spangled banner and rise for allegiance.
Don’t ignore one side of me for the other,
you can’t forget the eggs but remember the flour.
It won’t taste sweet without the kick of salt.
I’m not a recipe to be changed.
So, read the instructions carefully before you try to make me.
–Mylina Baez’s poem was inspired by another poet’s work; focusing on relevant topics we find today regarding race.