Instead by Ariana Brown


Ariana Brown is a queer Black Mexican American poet from the Southside of San Antonio, TX, with a B.A. in African Diaspora Studies and Mexican American Studies from UT Austin. She is a 2014 collegiate national poetry slam champion and a survivor of the Poetry MFA program at the University of Pittsburgh. Ariana does not believe in Latinidad or nationhood as a concept or useful organizing tool; she finds refuge and community among Afro-Indigenous and Afrocaribbean folks. Ariana is lowkey a curandera and highkey the yungest abuela you will ever meet. Follow her work online at and on Twitter & Instagram @arianathepoet. 

i want something instead of beauty, so i will not describe the white girl as beautiful. her hands were not gloved & her hair not coiffed as a southern debutante. her mouth not dainty, the color in her cheeks not rosy, her dress not made of lace & smelling of mint or lavender, her eyes not the inside of the sea, her name not the language i wish to swathe myself in, her socks not trimmed with fake rhinestones, her silhouette not the grand god i pray to, her voice not echoing as a high pitched note from piano in the moment when she unbolted her five year old lips & called my five year old self a nigger.

i want something instead of pain, so i will not describe my mother’s rage on the way home from the daycare as painful. i will not say that white girls think me a monster when i don the garments, inhabit the spaces, play with the toys made them for them. i will not say i learned to stand stiller than air, though not still enough to disappear, will not say i envied the carpet for going unnoticed, that i wished again to know my father (to have a partner in this), that i began to touch my hair whenever i felt lonely, that i fidgeted between mom’s legs as she pulled the brush over my crown while yelling, that
years later i searched for every translation of the word to know always when i am
 being spoken about to manage the danger of being born in this body. what i mean is, i
did not always understand. that day, i did not understand so well that i did not move,
not once, from the spot, until i was told.

The Acentos Review 2019