Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Poetry Contest + POEM: Identity

About a month ago Beth and I entered a statewide poetry contest sponsored by the Fairbanks Arts Association, and last Friday I found out I won! Okay, so I found out I won an Honorable Mention in a contest with three winners and three Honorable Mentions. Still cool, even if it was only an Honorable Mention. I got to go to an awards ceremony with the winners reading their poems (me, too!) on Saturday. I got to hear really good poems and read my own for other people who like poetry. Very cool.

So, even though I've already blogged this poem, I'm gonna do it again. This is the one that kind of won fourth place in a statewide contest. (all the Honorable Mentions were kind of like fourth place...)

I am…
The white girl
walking through soft brown eyes glaring
as I hide my yellow hair like a wound,
cover it like a secret,
a refugee alone in a library
sheltered by imagined worlds
from a brown skinned lunch room.
When will I represent just me,
not thousands of slave-owners,
wife-rapers, husband-beaters,
land-stealers, baby-killers,
destruction of tradition and language?
I am not white.
I lived amongst sod houses,
traveled by four-wheeler,
picked blueberries,
learned Inupiaq,
saw midnight suns and month-long blackness,
wore parkas and walked on iced oceans.
I am not Eskimo.
I think in English,
pray to Jesus Christ,
have no wise elders,
no home village,
wear a watch and keep a day-timer,
live alone.
I hate my white skin.
I stand apart from a white world,
which is traumatized by a whale hunt,
offended by a honey-pot,
and raises individuality and independence
as a lamp of perfection for all.
I wept horrified at the inaccuracy of Dances With Wolves,
raising native life as a pure
ideal, holy and good.
No lifestyle is faultless.
I wept silently
in history class in my white college
when the trail of tears was a comma
in a history book
and reservations were the concluding period.
No lifestyle should be stolen.
I balance on a wire,
a strand of taut sealgut,
between a white world
and a native village.
I am not white.
I am not native.
I cannot be both for each hates the other,
somewhere in their secret self,
buried below consciousness and clarity.

No comments: