Eloísa Pérez-Lozano

Side Effects of Recognition

Eloisa author photo



Eloísa Pérez-Lozano grew up bilingual and bicultural in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Iowa State University with her M.S. in journalism and mass communication and her B.S. in psychology. She is a long-distance member of the Latino Writers Collective in Kansas City, and a member of the Gulf Coast Poets. Her poetry has been featured in The Texas Observeraaduna, Diverse Voices Quarterly, and VONA’s Voices Against Racial Injustice: An Arts Forum, among others.

Twitter: @EloPoeta

Facebook: Eloisa Ana Poet and Photographer (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eloisa-Ana-Poet-and-Photographer/130569953630815)

As the assistant principal calls my name, I go up a couple of steps and cross to center stage to shake my principal’s hand and accept my certificate of honor. Then comes the excruciatingly long list of all the scholarships or colleges that I’ve been awarded. I didn’t want her to read them all, but she did because that’s what my dad turned in. As the names go on, I can feel my hands getting moist so I wipe them on my dress, nervously shifting weight from one foot to the other. I try to remember why I chose to wear heels: I guess I didn’t think I’d be standing here this long and I wanted to look nice, a rare moment of choosing cuteness over comfort. I picture the steaming plate of spaghetti and meatballs that awaits me at the Olive Garden after the ceremony, after this too-long stint on the stage. I try to think about anything except the endless droning holding me hostage as the corners of my mouth hurt from maintaining my smile. My eyes dart around to different places in the audience, but thanks to the blinding spotlight, I can only see the outlines of faceless heads with various hairstyles. Some feathery and short, some long with undulating curls, a few with the crisp, round shape bequeathed by baldness. On the front row, I see a lady with the outline of a bun atop her head as she glances down ever so slightly. Was she looking at her watch? At some point, I hear the names of the universities start running together as the announcer realizes it’s a longer list than she’d thought. After all, there are still other students with shorter lists to recognize. As I rest my eyes for a second, my auditory sense takes over and I hear a few deep sighs from out in the audience, parents’ breath expelled with the wish that I’ll be off stage soon so their son or daughter can smile at them instead of me. Time crawls as I wait, the air around me seemingly still like the freeze-frame of Neo in “The Matrix” where the camera rotates to a different angle and the action picks up again. Only here, my dad proudly holds the camcorder, the angle is the same, and the only action comes from the hands of the clock on the side wall. The seconds hand drags forward around its face, seemingly as stuck as I am in my ever-rising restlessness. I can feel my classmates’ eyes on me, on my brown hair and dark eyes, boring holes into my skin. They listen to the numerous awards like a self-help tape you’ve begrudgingly agreed to hear, bitterness and impatience probably coloring their opinions on whether I actually earned my honors or if they were given to me because of where my parents were born. She can’t really be that smart, I imagine they’re thinking. It’s just because she’s Mexican. Then suddenly, a few claps start and the rest of the auditorium follows, freeing me to hurry back to my seat. I let out a deep sigh as I sink down into its welcoming cushion, hoping someone else will be as equally tortured as me. Trying to convince myself I deserve everything that was just laid bare for all to see.



Every time I come to Marshalltown,

I tell Maria’s story through my photographs.


She owns a successful party store so

I meet new customers every time I shoot.


Humble, modest Mexican women

who have husbands and children at home


And they always ask me the same question:


¿Cómo puedes estar tan lejos de tu familia

y tu prometido? Estás solita.”


It doesn’t matter that I’ve studied

and lived in Ames for almost a decade,


that I’ve been welcomed into and

grown with a solid church community,


that I’ve made close friends and relish time

with them in our favorite small-town haunts.


All they see: 15 hours away from my family

and four hours away from my fiancé.


An independent Mexican-American woman,

I don’t exist in the realm of their experience.


To them, I am an incomplete unit,

alone without the warmth and comfort


Of the generation that came before me

and the generation still to come,


An unfortunate outlier without a label,

floating in the purgatory of feminine reputation.


To them, I’m a vampire with a mysterious air about me,

blending in as their own Spanish pours from my mouth.


Contrary to their idea of a homemaker,

I drink in the sweet elixir of my travels


my soul and fangs always thirsting for more,

and always looking for the next woman to turn.


© The Acentos Review 2016