Made In America.

 © Lucia Saldarriaga Self-Portait Photo

Made In America

America is what happened to me,
She sheltered me from a Barrio that’s a distant dream,
She traded the sounds of Tapaculo finches and taste of Sopa de Changua
For the chirp of black-capped Chickadees,
And crunch of Cheerios con leche.
America is what happened to me,
She watched me sneak sips of Kentucky bourbon,
From the family liquor cabinet, intoxicated with rebellion,
And drunk from laughter,
My friends and I spit shook on promises of lifelong sisterhood.
America is what happened to me,
She nursed me a bitter pill of self-actualization,
I choked on the taunts of my classmates, my throat burned,
From the lozenge of suppressed sexual identity.
America is what happened to me,
She help my hands while I caught and released fireflies between my palms,
I paused to wipe sweat beads from my brows,
Each balmy summer evening of my youth.
America is what happened to me,
She blessed our house with the burden of ancestral legacy,
At dinner each night, my mother consecrated the bread and wine of women’s equality,
Hand in hand with my father who nibbled the Haroset of the American Dream,
Una Mezcla de Familia (a recipe) that couldn’t be torn out of Martha Stewart Living.
America is what happened to me,
She cradled my bruised spirit and shuttled me to higher pursuits in our nation’s capital,
I battled the prisoner’s dilemma of looming adulthood and the lies in my head,
But she taught me to turn torment into prose,
Because “yes, we can”.

America is what happened to me,
She stumbled, while I swore she’d protect me with the promise of opportunity,
When I removed my rose-colored glasses, reality blinded me.
The lives of Mr. Martin, Mr. Browder, those at Pulse to Vegas to Parkland, flashed faster
Than the Times Square ticker tape before my eyes,
And I realized. I failed her.
America is what happened to me,
She couldn’t hear me, so I deserted her.
I ground my memories into a polvo so pure, gringos could mistake it,
For the molecular formula C17H21NO4,
I tucked beneath my nails, under a bed of Revlon Red 3.75.
America is what happened to me,
I apologized. I muttered profusely, Prometo lealtad a la bandera de los Estados Unidos.
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
My boarded pass shielded my heart.
Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
I ached to look back,
And I wondered if she’ll ever welcome me home with open arms again,
Because America is what happened to me.

Made In America © 2018 by Lucia Saldarriaga, was first broadcast at the Hear Now Festival in June 2018, where it won a Gold Podcast Palooza Award.

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