when my mother was a little girl
and martial law by dictator Marcos was forced upon her country
she remembered the day the Marcos regime raided her house
to look for her fatherâ€™s weapons.
She told me
he had spears,
from indigenous tribes in the mountains
machetes from his father’s father
butterfly knives, from his gang brothers
and everything he could put his hands on that would be used to protect his own.
she told me that the government
was trying to take anything that could overthrow them.
44 years later and my parents,
who have lived through the slaughter
request that I donâ€™t go to protests whenever Iâ€™m home.
or if ever at all.
they say itâ€™s too dangerous for me,
they say itâ€™s not my problem to fight.
My father told me,
they used to kill people who speak out as much as You do
â€œyouÂ speak like you have no name, no face to save,â€
both of them tell me Â just finish school, thatâ€™s all we ever wanted for our daughters.
both of them would probably want me to be as invisible as possible
but they never raised me that way.
my father fed me fire ants and taught me how to sing to make my voice stronger
my mother taught me how to fight back, how to be fair.
what is marginalized oppression but a big brother?
who makes my people feel like invisibility is the only way to stay alive
that makes my people stay complacent in their role as caregiver, as student, as tally mark
never present, or whole, or complex
never authentic,Â always dubbed or translated or voiced over
what is America but a regime,
taking all of our weapons
My voice is my butterfly knife
it is my indigenous mountain spear
my words are machete
ready to cut at any moment
my heart is a rifle my grandfather made out of scrap metal and tree trunks
and my body is armor made of every prayer my grandmother lit a candle for
Iâ€™m the offspring of two people who silently protested against the mistreatment of their daughters
I am the product of an island that swallows itself whole and recovers the next morning
I am the daughter of the sun
a sand skinned girl who refuses to fade to the back ground
and there is nothing that will ever dim my light.
there is nothing that can ever scare me out of my glory
I have never met my grandfather
he died before I could ever start remembering his face.
my mother tells me he managed to hide one machete
she keeps it in our closet in the Philippines
it is rusty and heavy
I am 13 and she teaches me how to hold it
carry it like first child
and grip it like last day
this is when I know where I belong
this is how a girl becomes a woman
this is what a homecoming looks like
Power, is a brown girl finding her weapons and learning how to use it.
Power, is how memory can repeat a history that was supposed to be erased,
Power, is how a grand daughter can revive a legacy that the empire tried to destroy.