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By <a href="/centrovoices/meet-the-authors/viviann-rodriguez">Viviann “True” Rodriguez</a>


They are still trying to cover the bloodstains Bisabuela
They are stomping the ground hoping the dust clouds will cover their disdain
Attempting to drown chocolate skin in goat’s milk
Blaming dark flecks on Spanish pixie dust
Swallowing melanin as if their excretions are the only brown they know
They rather expel you
Discount your struggle because no one remembers you well
It is hard to see the Congo in green eyes
Unless you fell the trees
You felt the forest call your name
Sweet to your ears like the coquí accompanied lullabies your Toa sang
Now they think you can be called by a cacophony of syllables with no soul attached
I don’t know why I feel the need to save you from these savage’s attacks
You taught us to be more civilized than that
But your children watched them pull your still moving arm from the teeth of those hounds
I can’t allow them to presume that your body was never found
No matter how many pieces they left you in
Will not let them end your existence again
Surely this could be sweeter
I am sure that the images of my lilly white ancestors and
Blonde green eyed cousins would make a prettier picture
Would much rather trace my last name to the southwest of Spain
But I know my Moorish culture
There is so much more to offer
My bisabuela warrior runs circles around that lineage
I’d rather sever them like they did her calves from her thighs
I could easily take away from my dark side by claiming light skin and good hair
But I was told they scalped you
That they brought back tokens to “El Jefe” who wept
because he knew he’d have to tell the children you shared
Could not believe you would fight to the end
That love for him was never there
That you’d chose death over captivity and the anguish of children being sold
While others were set free
Because their resemblance was uncanny
There was no Afro-Taino on their skin
Who would’ve thought they’d never claim you as kin?
That they’d rather have a turn with the whip
Than admit that you were their roots
Funny how hard they cried when they fall so easily
How fiercely they wept when crawling on all fours to their patriarch’s door and
Were told they weren’t welcome there anymore
How they longed for the cinnamon of your breast to fill the space in their chest
But the dogs ate that so they walk around empty
Mere shells of the greatness that flowed through your veins
Bisabuela, I will not let you die in vain, Negra
Your dark skin reflected a light so pure
They could only hope to emulate it by staying indoors
In the cool dark they were exiled to but that’s nothing new
They only claim you when they want to
When it’s cool or when it’s cute
Like puppy dogs with tastes for Afro-Taino blood
They thought they covered the bloodstains
Thought they whitewashed you and bleached you in the sun
But they were wrong
Your stain had set in too deep to ring out
Had soaked into your children so when they least expected it La Mancha came out
Wonder what my blonde, green eyed grandmother
Granddaughter of the plantation owner imagined when she saw me
Ñeta de mi Bisabuela guerrera blood flows through me
A confirmation of the stories of which their grandfather use to speak
Of Afro-Taino women who risked their lives to be free
They’re still trying to hide your body, Bisabuela
Dumping you in the ocean on their way to get their Master’s blessing
But I won’t let them kill you again
Will keep you safe in my lungs
Expel you only briefly to blow the dust away

So that they can never again try to hide the bloodstains

© Viviann "True" Rodriguez. Published by permission in Centro Voices on 11 April 2015.