Reflection

photo by: Bianca Garcia Chase

photo by: Bianca Garcia Chase

I am a spitting image of my mother

every step I take mirrors hers

Where her left hand moves, my right hand follows

each sound she makes,

my throat swallows,  

Her words pierce through me

Like sharpened shards of glass

I swallow

Her words suffocate me.

When I look into her eyes, I see so much LOVE

When she looks into mine she sees, imperfections

She raised me to be independent

yet, so dependent on her

As if I was her extra appendage

She needed me, like I needed her

She needed me to be the best Dominican housewife

“Limpia las losas,” She’d say

“Men don’t like, Men dont like dirty, Men DONT LIKE DIRTY WOMEN.”

I needed her to be my mother

and love me like her daughter

but her love,

her love was to teach me from age 9

to clean the 4 Bedroom,1.5 bath, living room, and kitchen

Every single Sunday, on my own like good girls do

Her love, was for me to skip days of school

so I can babysit my two younger siblings

Her love, was to curse at me if I dared

Bring home anything less than at B+

‘Cause bringing home 4 educational awards

was not better than bringing home 8

I still wanted to make her proud

‘Cause I was proud she raised 4 children practically on her own

For all my father did was

Spew out 4 perfectly good sperm

From his phantom limb dick

And then it clicked

My mother was raising me to be a housewife

To serve men

So that one day I can find a husband

Better than my father was

I wanted to make her proud

I would make her proud

Until one day she called me up at work

Said she had a question

My heart sunk, my silence said it all

My mind went blank

“Are you gay?,” she said

My mind went blank

She said, “Mi hija por favor avanzate, answer the question.”

“Yes, yes, yes,” I said shamefully

And my only question to her was

“Are you still going to be proud of me?”

My mind went blank

All I could hear was her faint echo

When she threw me out

like I was the baggage she held onto for years

All I could hear, were her last words

I held onto for years

She said “Sucia, maricon, dirty little whore,

How can you like women? It is a disgrace to God

and a disgrace for me to call you my daughter.”

All I could hear was her stern voice on repeat.

She said, “I’d rather you be a prostitute

because at least I know you’d be having sex with men, with men, with men.”

All I can hear now is her blood

Rushing through my veins

It pains me every time I look at my reflection

I seek perfection

When I look at my reflection

I see her eyes

I see my nose

I see our lips, whispering “I just want to make you proud.”

About Nati:

Nati Reyes is a lifelong New Yorker, Afro-Latina, poet and avid traveler. For the past seven years she has worked with nonprofit organizations assisting people who have developmental and intellectual disabilities.

She is a first generation Dominican -Haitian American and the first to graduate University in her immediate family. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the State University of New York at Purchase College in 2011. She has performed weekly at multiple open mics across NYC and Brooklyn.  In 2013, she was a featured poet at the Bluestockings Cafe and Bookstore in New York City. She is passionate art, music and spiritualty. Her poetry highlights her struggles as an Afro Latina woman discovering herself in the world and the inequalities she encounters.

Since 2015, she has been living and working in South Korea, hoping for her voice to be hear across oceans.

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