As Us

A Space for Women of the World

Tria Andrews – Poetry

No White Lies

In the laundry room, heat a stifling breath, so here I am safe, but suffocating. Thoughts folding and unfolding like bodies wishing they could disappear. The cloth bears a night-mare penned story, arching starched sheets never bleached enough. I know who’s bled and where to clean, to soothe tonight: girls, boys, torn mother tongues, metallic words thrust themselves upon us, leaving wounds like wasted milk.

* * *

Doll Making, Camiling Industrial Schools

“I have found that dressing dolls is the easiest and most pleasant method of teaching the required industrial work in the primary school.” –The Philippine Craftsman[1]

Our first initiation our fingers bled
red rosebud drops. Sucking thumbs,

we were warned catch it quickly
and we did, like a disease.

Each girl wanted her own. We fashioned bodies,
khaki stuffed with white cotton

dreams. Tiny undergarments trimmed with lace
made us wonder why

below our own skirts we were bare. We held
their headless torsos to our flat breasts.

Teacher said unfinished she loved them
all the more,

inspected their bodies for imperfections, said
laziness showed in the stitch.

Teacher said there is no use for daggers
when there are dolls, so we gathered

jusi and mangas for their serpentina skirts,
scoured our brushes to make their hair

natural. The color isn’t right,
teacher said, have patience,

so we formed a lined behind
a vat of boiling water

to each take her turn
dyeing a little at a time.

[1] Grove, Hattie A. “Dolls in Native Costume.” The Philippine Craftsman 2.5 (1913):347-350. Print. Mario Feir-Filipiniana Collection, Manila.

* * *

Tria Andrews HeadshotTria Andrews is a Cherokee, Irish, and Filipina writer who has published critical essays, fiction, poetry, and photography. She is a graduate of the MFA program in Fiction from San Diego State University and a doctoral student in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has taught Asian American and Native American Studies. She is currently a Ford Predoctoral Fellow and Fulbright Scholar. Her creative work frequently focuses on her Cherokee and Filipino roots and highlights the parallel experiences of displacement and isolation of both groups as a result of colonialism. Her critical research examines culturally relevant forms of rehabilitation for Native American youth in juvenile detention centers located on tribal land. This research is informed by over five years of tutoring and teaching yoga to incarcerated adolescents.

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2 comments on “Tria Andrews – Poetry

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  2. Pingback: Friday Poetry: Voices From Silence | The Berkeley Graduate

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As Us Indigenous Women’s Literary Journal

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