Tano’ I Man Chamorro by Danielle P. Williams

Tano’ I Man Chamorro.[1]


Danielle P. Williams is a writer from Columbia, South Carolina. She earned her BA from Elon University in 2016. She is currently a poet in the MFA program at George Mason University. Williams strives to write poetry that gives a voice to unrepresented cultures. She has a passion for understanding and connecting with the past and makes it a point to expand on the many different narratives and experiences of her own cultures. Her poetry is featured online in Scalawag Magazine, All The Sins, and The Write Launch.

But who am I really?

I was once described as a half breed.

I was once described as royalty.

My nana used to tell me I was the sea.

Free to be anything, or anywhere.


The allowance of new people to new places,

the ebb and flow of cultures unknown.


The last time I visited Saipan, my elders told me I looked

like them. They described many taotaomona[2] bearing our name,

traced their fingers to my features, and applauded

the continuance of a culture that was told to be dying.


I remember smiling at the few words I could make out.

I remember wondering what life would be like if my


grandparents had passed on the language to us instead

of leaving us to feel like strangers in the midst of family.


I was once described as poison.

I was once described as anointed.


My poison comes from my “tainted” blood.

With a name not given by this land.


I take to my feet. To the sand. My hands, crescents

curved to the sky, tell my story in hula to pass time.


I sometimes feel the aniti[3] on me.

I’m told that means I am chosen.


They come to me in dreams. In waves of emotion

with my eyes, wide open, and curious.


They tell me prophecies. Issue warnings.

Wish me well. Whisper things in the night

I must decipher through the minds of loved ones

visited by ancestors, long buried.


Tano’ I Man Chamorro.

But, who am I really?

My nana used to tell me I was the sea.

[1] Land of the Chamorro’s; I am Chamorro

[2] People before time

[3] Spirits

The Acentos Review 2019