Returning to one’s ancestral homeland offers time for reflection, but also reminds us that even these sacred places are often threatened. Read more →
As mentioned in my last blog, “Where I Come From,” self-reflection has been something I’ve focused on a lot. As someone who didn’t see herself making it to the age of 15, being 21 and on my last year of college has been quite a journey. With that said, I want to share two poems I wrote to myself for difficult times, because just as 2018 was filled with hard times, 2019 will be filled with them too. But there will be good times as well, and we just have to let the good times outweigh the bad.
“Letter to the Past Me”
You love watching SpongeBob in your tinker bell pj’s
and eating rocky road ice cream.
You’re the Waldo of hide and seek.
No one can ever find you
because no one even tries.
In your first year of junior high
you will build a ladder of scars on your wrist.
It will escalate to contemplations of suicide.
It wlll keep escalating,
until you’re too high off the ground
so you fall,
for a boy in your math class.
But like boys,
math is too complex.
You prefer science.
At age 13,
You will have more issues
But they will NEVER be as pretty
as the girls on the page.
Your issues will not be airbrushed.
They will not be 6’1.
They will not be skinny.
They will be mothers,
slipping diet pills into their 105-pound daughters’ juice
And still calling them “fat.”
You will start putting makeup on the canvas you call face,
hoping to paint a pretty picture.
But I want you to stop,
Even though you never will.
I want you to realize that makeup isn’t beauty.
Beauty is a homeless person on the street
who has more fight inside him than a boxing ring.
Beauty is when a deaf man finally hears the music
beating inside him like a drum and starts to sing.
Beauty is an 11-year-old boy
feeling fabulous in his older sisters sparkling sundress.
You will realize that superheroes do exist,
They’re just in the form of symphonies and staccatos.
They will drown out the voices in your head
telling you it’s the end
when really Scarlett,
it’s just the beginning.
“Honest Things for the Past Me to Know/Do: Letter, Part 2”
It will be 3 years since you’ve attempted to die
months since your dyed your hair
and convinced yourself that you were happy
with your looks and life.
That will be the biggest lie you tell yourself in a long time.
Take up silence
Practice it in group chats and
They will miss you less this way
if your absence
is already present.
The ticks and twitches won’t stop
They will build rooms in your ribcage and spine
Let them stay there
Do not let them out.
When a boy tells you that leaving
is what you do,
You will ask the earth why it hasn’t understood that
just like your prayers,
you will get no answer.
Stop believing in god
put all your faith in yourself
You will need it more than she does.
Be a little selfish
Allow yourself to cry
the cracks in the corners of your eyes
are there for a reason.
You will replicate your favorite shirt
Worn out, blue and so holy
This, will leave you empty.
When it does, fill yourself with butterscotch and taffy
to remind yourself of the sweeter things in life.
I know it’s still hard
I know it still hurts.
But on days where vertical lines seem so tempting,
look out into the horizon to find any reason to stay.
I’m rooting for you
I hope you’ll be okay.
Scarlett Cortez is a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts.