As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Ramona Beltrán – Poetry

Indian Card

(Poetic auto-ethnography)

– for marisa –

They never asked to see my Indian card.

“She’s Yoeme from California”, said the abuela I’d never met before as I was invited to sit at the elder’s table for dinner. I sat next to Tio Pedro, an abuelo of the barrio and one of the men who oversaw the fiestas that year. I watched as cousins quietly moved the salt out of his reach.

The day before, I swept the floor of the little iglesia in preparation for the weekend’s journey into spirit world. As I swept, I scanned the statues of Jesús, about to be draped in purple as the world, the universe, readied to descend into darkness before the Yaqui, my people, would save us all.

That night I knelt down in the dark on the cold concrete floor. With my shoulders exposed, I welcomed the lashings of twisted palm on my bare skin – forgiveness for the mistakes of many lives.

The next day the sun rose to the sparkle of glittered confetti as it hit clean dirt. The children’s dark brown eyes shimmered the twinkle of indigenous angels as bells rang in gloria. Through tiny hands and flowered prayers, we will live to see another day. I cried a thousand tears…a hundred years of wandering complete…in the place where misery and ecstasy meet.

They never asked to see my Indian card.

Xicano Man

– for chente –

Xicano man
amor de mi vida
mi reflejo en palabras
y piel

you are evidence
that dreams exist
that imagined
is real.

in isolation,
from broken bodies
and broken homes

exiled to silence
darkened rooms
ambient television
the only sound
just like our people
el camino de Anahuac
forced underground.

But this,
all this,
so you would get intimate
with the music
of your own heartbeat
rhythm of la madre tierra
to finally rise up
through beats on skins
and words in succession.

Me dices,
“I love you!
You hear me?
That’s a happy occasion”.

When all I can feel
is the shake
in my belly
the loose terrain
yet to tame,
you hold me,
remind me
that WE,
are re-writing histories
stitching up
jagged-edged wounds
of our legacies.

When all I can do is cry.
My tears,
all the rivers of the world
forced to swallow
the pain of
those who could not walk freely
on the paths
of their own ancestors.
Oceans of tears
shoved down mouths
like cotton used to silence
prisoners of war
and you absorb them
into your skin
like the cracked soil of the desert.

Yet it’s not enough to nourish
parched earth.
Swollen stomachs
need so much more.
Hearts choking in dust,
such a long road yet to heal

You must be crazy!
But you go willingly
not talking
showing your strength
through softness
and calloused hands.

Xicano man
amor de mi vida
from Tlaloc saturated lands.

Direct descendant
of the sun.

I dance for you
all the hope
and love
and prayers
my body can offer,
my heart can feel.

You are evidence
that dreams exist
that imagined
is real.

Ramona Beltran - Head shotRamona E. Beltrán, is Chicana of Yaqui descent and a dedicated dancer/activist/scholar. As an assistant professor at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work in Colorado, she works to cultivate creativity in teaching future social workers how to embody social justice and love as fundamental ethics.  Her scholarship is the dance between environmental justice, historical trauma, and healing with a focus on decolonizing bodies, lands, and knowledge.  Her work has been published in academic journals and edited books and she has traveled nationally and internationally to promote the power of story as medicine. In 2012, she was selected as the Toihuarewa Visiting Indigenous Fellow at Victoria University at Wellington in Aotearoa (New Zealand) to collaborate on a digital storytelling project and cultural exchange with Maori community. This is her first publication of creative works. Each and every word will forever be dedicated to her mother and first inspiration, Consuela Castro Beltran.

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

Countdown to Launch

Issue 3February 14, 2014
Online version of Issue 3 goes live!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 505 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: