Fronteras by Natalie Fisher-Chavez


Feliz cumpleaños!

Lla 22 años y 17 años sin verte

On my 22nd birthday you wrote me, told me that it had been 22 years since my birth, and 17 years since you’d last seen me


Natalie Fisher-Chavez is a Mexican-American chef, educator and poet who was born first generation to a Mexican father and a white mother. She has long struggled with her identity, at times feeling like she was not Latina enough, but being clearly non-white amongst her majority white public schools. She has reclaimed and embraced her Latinidad, both through her cuisine as a chef and creatively through poetry. Her poetry brings to life her mixed race identity while preserving her Mexican roots. 

I bet you didn’t know that 17 is my lucky number

And that when I had seen 17 one too many times,

I turned to google because it was the only thing that told me, “ask anything

Found out that there’s a such thing as angel numbers

That 17 represents the connection between the individual and the higher

And so I wondered why God didn't put enough of himself in you

Then I wondered if God is really a “he” when you left and she didn't

My father the color of the oppressed, mother the color of the oppressor

And so what does that make me?

Human, I guess...

But if my father knew the feeling of false inferiority

To be brown in a country that sees, speaks and suffocates in white

Then why did you cross a border to make a baby that was really just a burden too heavy for you 

to bare?

Father I thought I was a light

And speaking of borders,

Borders that represent me

            Somewhere in between white and brown

            Broken and bandaged,

I can feel the walls building up inside my body

Brick by brick by brick, using guts as glue,

Lungs lacking communication, unable to breathe,

Kidneys confused as mirror becomes mirage

Deterred from detoxification

Father, didn’t anyone ever tell you that I was supposed to be made of blood and not brick?

            Why did Tío Bences y Tía Lilia have to be my parents

            Why couldn’t you?

            I don’t think you’ll ever look at me the way Tío Bences does

Mom and I had to build our house on our own, too

Brick by brick by brick

She cried over you every night

Those bricks are probably still soaked with our tears

You know you missed Father’s Days, birthdays

And do you have any idea the fathers day cards I would have written you?

Had hallmark on my line , but you know I’ve never really been one to be kept stationary.

In fact, I’ve written poems on you for years now

Ink dipped in confusion, anger, sadness

Written on the surface, tattooed on my being

            Tears I’ll always taste

            The way they rolled down my face

So Father, if my skin is the color of light amber honey as the sun shines through the glass jar

Then why didn’t I leave a sweet enough taste in your mouth, and why didn’t I light you up 


            I’m not sure these walls will ever come down


The Acentos Review 2019