Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech:
— Proverbs 1: 20-21
I am not the polite little colored girl you are looking for. You did not fashion me in your image. It is not my ambition that you glance my way, to acknowledge my foreign face, to learn my barbaric tongue, to cherish my diminutive body. You are not my gravity.
I am not your ethnic spectacle. I am not your cultural poverty. You don’t get to frame me.
I do not ask for your permission to speak. I do not ask you to hear me. I write whether or not you invite my words. I will not be housebroken, ador(n)ed for my tameness. I am not afraid of you.
You don’t get to catalogue me. You don’t get to warehouse me. You don’t get to rescue me. You don’t get to touch me. You don’t get to explain me. You are not the standard by which I judge my own worth. You don’t get to draw my boundaries.
Fuck your tender fences and applause.
I do not ask for your acceptance. I am not your child. I am not your pet. I am not your object lesson. I don’t need your absolution
Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of To Love as Aswang (Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc., 2015). She was born in Manila, Philippines, raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is the author of three previous collections of poetry, Gravities of Center (Arkipelago Books, 2003), Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2005), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, and Diwata (BOA Editions, Ltd., 2010), which received the Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry. She is also the author of the chapbooks Easter Sunday (Ypolita Press, 2008) Cherry (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2008), and For the City that Nearly Broke Me (Aztlan Libre Press, 2012). http://www.barbarajanereyes.com/