Broken Crayon

i was taught to be pink—

the blushing cheek of a virtuous girl,

or the pearl of her unspoiled innocence.

i was taught to be the color of the rose

lovingly selected for the virgin

bride’s bouquet, trimmed

of every thorn that could prick.

i was taught to be a soft pastel

that would not raise eyebrows

or suspicion or blood pressure—

just a whisper of color easily missed

unless you looked closely, but no one

should be tempted to do so.

i was taught to be pink—

instead i am red,

the vermillion glow of fire

burning too hot, too wild,

leaving ashes in its wake.

instead i am blue—

the mysterious indigo of abyssal

seas where men go down

to depths they can never escape.

instead i am grey—

the gathering storm clouds,

the impending flood

of passion and destruction.

instead i am black—

the moonless night,

cold and lonely

and haunted by ghosts.


I was called a coconut because I dated gringos

and Spanish didn’t roll off my American-born tongue.

I couldn’t make tamales the way my nana did,

couldn’t sing corridos the way my father did

when he was drunk on memories and beer.

I didn’t know what the women in the novelas

were crying about, even though I cried with them.

I couldn’t answer the questions of strangers

who crossed the border to shop at the store I worked in.

“Eres Mexicana, no?” Sí, soy Mexicana,

pero no hablo mucho Español. Mea Culpa.

But my skin is brown, and my soul is brown,

and all the colors they’ve become blind to.

And their judgments won’t cut out my heart,

and their dismissal of my blood won’t take away

the passion that pulses through my veins.

I have not sacrificed the legacy of my ancestors

simply by being born on the other side.

And I know what was sacrificed so that I could live

as free as a winged serpent unrestricted

by the walls and fences built to keep people in

or shut people out. I will not apologize

for the color of my skin nor the many colors of my soul.

I was called a coconut but I will not split myself in two,

will not spill my blood as an offering for approval.

Lisa L. Weber is a Libra who sees beauty through the pain. When not writing or dreaming, she enjoys laughing and singing with her husband and son.

Her work has appeared online at Anti-Heroin Chic, The Ginger Collect, Memoir Mixtapes, and Rag Queen Periodical. Find her on Twitter @LisaLermaWeber