& there is so much I left unsaid

by Joanna Villegas

I remember his legs racing through the park.
Running up with his rage in hand
like something was being ripped out or away from him.

I remember when he reached us,
how he gripped the soft of her neck
demanding her eyes
controlling her breath,
the parts of her that he could.

I remember not knowing what to do,
feeling nauseous, and scared, and small,

and she couldn’t look over to me,
she was unresponsive to me.
how could she be anything but…

I remember trying to make sense of the situation,
…I knew she was his girlfriend,
…I knew we had only been walking through the park with her friend,
…I knew what was happening was wrong

I remember running up porch steps and inside the house
to tell them how he yelled at her
as if his words could come any closer to her,
how he moved her around by the grip on her neck,
how she stood resisting in silence,
no tears, no apparent fear,
as if this was now familiar.

“People in love, fight,” they said
I was told I was young, that I would see it differently someday

I was told I was young and I would see it differently someday
We were taught it was a personal issue,
“una pareja es de dos, con tres ya es chisme.”

—-

That night I remember promising myself to never let somebody love me
so aggressively
that they had to wrap their hand around my neck
so I could feel it.

& the fear still chokes me.

I think back to this moment every time I find myself in a new booship/lovership/relationship.

I think about the danger in opening up,
how toxic gender lessons, fear, and anger seep into actions,
what parts I experience and what parts I perpetuate.

I think about the danger in letting someone love me the only way they know how,
I remember the many ways I’ve been taught that I have influence and control over my partner’s actions,
even when I don’t.

The many times I’ve been told femmes, women, girls,
abuse their power –
their voice, their identities, their oppressions –
as if these oppressions are a privilege,
as if claiming my body as mine,
and attempting to exist with autonomy
Is somehow abuse of power.

Their life lessons. Their gender lessons.
Mixed with their fears, shame, types of communication
are truly beyond me.
Not my job to deconstruct.
Rebuild.
But I do it sometimes.
Many times.
Show up only to be left exhausted,
often times resisting in silence is all I can do.

Their life lessons. Gender lessons.
Mixed with their fears, shame, types of communication
more often become my invisible labor.
My fault.
My hurt.
My baggage.
The “reasons” I don’t respect,
or love myself.
The reasons I “never learn” to choose better partners.

—-

The first time I filed a sexual harassment complaint –
he said he’d never met me.
he saw me once in awhile,
but never talked to me.
he requested a department switch,
& that was the end.

My boyfriend at the time was upset.
“How could you do that to someone?”
he asked me.
“It can impact his future. It can go on his record.”
He hovered over me as I sat on the edge of the bed.
How could I do that to someone,
I began to ask myself.

Shades of Black & Brown masculinity
get stopped, questioned, locked up, shot up
criminalized,
just for existing.

I knew this. I’ve seen this.
I’ve been hurt by it,
heartbroken by it.

How could I do that to someone,
he asked me.
And all I had ever been taught,
was that this was a personal issue so it was hard to look beyond the shame.
All I had ever seen was things like this get swept up,
under stacks of paper,
under the rug,
as tears that only other femmes, women, girls – could hold,
because it is a part of our reality we have grown to accept,
we have found ways to resist,
we are working towards changing.

I was taught I was young and I would see it differently someday.
I am 25 & I keep wishing we could see it differently,
because all someday brought with it was heartache,
growing pains our norms built and cultivated –
for brown femmebois like me
to survive, to learn to come back from,
to wish I never embody.
Memories to live with that only confirm I am disposable,
to some.

Oppression is intricate, layered.
It is heavy & unforgiving.
Even those that strive to reenvision.redefine.reshape,
can fall into the illusive, yet at moments tangible safety
that our privileges provide.

“oppression is intricate, layered.
It is heavy & unforgiving” –
I tell myself, as I try to hold multiple truths,
and soothe my own wounds.

I remember his legs racing through the park.
Running up with his rage in hand,
like something was being ripped out or away from him.
Running,
toward himself.
I wonder if he ever made it.

965121F1-9BF2-43CE-B10D-76745005F928

Joanna Villegas is a poet, activist and educator born and raised in San Diego, California in Barrio Logan. They are a queer fat xicana femmeboi, first generation scholar, child of Mexican immigrant parents. Joanna writes to nourish their soul and heal in the name of self-love and liberation. They love & learn from visionaries – who unapologetically strut towards the depths of their own dreams, creating their utopia. Currently based in Berkeley, Joanna serves as an advocate for LGBTQIA Issues at UC Davis.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s