Note from creator: Here is a poem I address to white North Americans about what they might expect when they pursue or when they are already involved in dating, marital, et al. relationship with a person of color or an immigrant/mixed race identifying person.
In most of my dating life in the United States, I had to always explain myself to my partner when we confront our cultural differences. This often left me emotionally and mentally exhausted, and in other cases, feeling ashamed for believing that I was the “burdensome” one in the relationship, or for feeling I was asking too much from my partner–just because I did not fit in the ways in which majority of North Americans related to and felt accepted by each other.
With the realities of collectivist cultures, shame-honor societies, family loyalty, wrestling through stereotypes, and among other unique components of being a minority in the US, I wrote this piece not for the sole intention of keeping people away or telling them they will never be ready for us, nor am I only here to vent (but not gonna lie- it was quite cathartic to visually describe my dating experiences). But instead, I intended to write about our desire to be seen and understood, and to feel connected with our partner. But I will not be naive to say that this does not come at a cost.
With interracial couples, the wise and creative efforts to make the relationship work must be exerted equally and collaboratively. This poem exists to advocate for a sense of home mutually felt by partners–at home within themselves and with each other.
By Gabes Torres
Approach with caution
for I bring a story, beyond you and me
With my lips, you kiss and taste the sweetness of my mother tongue
And an appetite for the sand, the shore, the sun
I am a hurried creature who can’t sit still when you begin to paint or sketch
the unfamiliar features of my face on your canvas
Afraid to be gazed upon longingly, to be smitten by, to be basked in
Are you ready? ready to hear my ancestors’ adoration
That they chanted to the fields and the night sky,
the same adoration that emerge in my handwritten letters to you
and my poetry about your eyes
Are you ready to hear the cracks from my soul’s bones
as it braces itself to hear the next time the crowd reduces me
to a motionless,
and lifeless idea that they tied to my skin tone?
When all this time, its shade resembles the ground from which they stand on,
and the very soil they want life from
Are you ready? Ready for a louder, more somber, maybe less sober,
Indecisive but creative, peculiar, and radiant phenomenon that is new to all your senses?
The phenomena of my love and of my passion
for you, for my people, for our dignity and our rightful places
And when you are inside
are you ready for a palette, wider
with more color,
more taste, more language,
more spice and sound
An expanding range of emotions from only two seasons all year ‘round
And a climaxing crescendo of tales and spaces you never knew could ache
while hearing lives that have passed on whose voices are still awake
Are you awake? Awake enough to believe that our lives exist and breathe in the same world
And yet, I have more to do for mine to be preserved
So baby, don’t be angry that whenever you say you love me,
it’s easy for me to run, to doubt, and to refuse
For choosing me in this world, for a lifetime, and even for a day,
You might have a lot more to lose
So approach with caution, and curiosity
For I bring a story– oh just you wait, and see
Intrigued to hear about the creative process? Come find more here.
© 2019 Gabes Torres. all rights reserved.