If my name is gunna be in your mouth, speak of me as I am.

after Carvens Lissant
Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate, 
Nor set down aught in malice. 
Then must you speak 
Of one that loved not wisely, 
but too well.    
      -Othello
For the days I  
wanted to flee from within 
the depths of me

tell them

before I’m six feet beneath 
and bones crushed, brain mush 
and worms wriggling out of 
the sockets, unseeing -

I beg you, 
speak of me as I am.

That I was one who held her 
lips tight to avoid fights, 
never spoke unless it 
curbed the violence.  
That instead of saying 
what I wanted to say  
I walked away in silence.  
I refused to engage with 
toxicity;
Tell them that the 
electricity of it 
stays in me indefinitely. 
Eternally. 
Struck stones hardened then 
crumbled like soft bones.  
Charred bits of it mixed with 
regret, 
trying to forget the times he 
had his hands around my neck 
but I can’t let go,  
I can’t get it out from 
the pit of my stomach to 
the top of my throat. 
Speak of me as I am - 
Because he won’t.

I was honest. 
I didn’t hide. 
I can’t say the same 
for this guy, 
spreading lie after lie. 
And even without him here 
I relive it vividly and cry 
and cry 
and cry.  
Why? Can’t I? Get him out  
of my spine? 
Crooked like it had been hung 
by hooks; 
It shook me to think I stayed 
to be his backbone.  
I left and now he’s 
nothing but a ghost.  
I loved openly 
and far too well; 
Can’t you tell, 
can’t you tell by the hunch 
of my back, 
the crunch and crack of the bones 
like heavy stones stacked? 

Tell them I found God in this pen 
and I worship Him. 
Poetry my religion. 
Words within spew out like the 
spray from the spout 
of the hydrants mid July, 
summertime New York City style.  
Tell them the Bronx didn’t 
make me wild  
but did deeply influence me 
as a child. 
Speak of me as I am. 
Puerto Rican.  And?  
Tell them I don’t plancha my hair 
because it grows 
how it grows.  
It knows the directions it wants to go.  
Same goes for me.  
I had my baby at 19 and in between 
diaper changes and essays 
I got my degree. 
So don’t judge me. 
Not if you never had to hustle it 
too,  
you don’t know what I’ve been 
through. 
I’m not a statistic. 
You’ll see, you’ll see. 
Tell them, tell them, 
when they speak of me.  
I was a firmly planted tree despite 
a storm of agony 
but the roots held 
and I’m standing.  
Broke off parts but not 
the whole damn thing. 

They may tell of a different 
version 
of who I really am 
but understand 
it’s not the whole story. 
Believe what you want to believe 
but don’t take it out on me 
because I take it personally when he  
punches constantly, 
bruising the skin and 
crushing the bones.  
The bones. The bones. 
So heavy like stones in me.  
Tell them to speak of me as I am. 
That I had to leave a man 
to save my life; 
That it almost killed me 
to be his wife.

Tell them I survived. 
One fucking day at a time.  
Tell them I’m revived, and 
I won’t hide,  
I won’t hide.  
Good luck trying to 
fool the world 
with his lies.  
He might hypnotize some 
but will not 
overcome the ones who 
see right through his outfit, 
the mask he puts on to con 
people with 
his bullshit.  
Tell them 
I’m over it. 

Tell them

before I’m six feet beneath  
and bones crushed, 

before my brains mush and 
worms wriggle 
out of the sockets, 
unseeing -

Speak of me as I am.

{Kristina Rose Garcia, 2020}

Published by misskris726

Bronx poet, artist and educator.

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