I am always busy wanting other lives

— Claudia Delfina Cardona

I thought whiteness
was something I could grow into.

At sixteen, I aspired to be
a Mexican-American Margot Tenenbaum

reading J.D. Salinger in the bathroom.
I took so many photos of myself

in the hope of finding someone else.
I stare at the shape of my mouth

and find my father.
I stare at my silhouette and find

a matriarchal lineage of longing.
I feed pennies to the cosmic

wishing well every night,
and ask for a sliver of what it is

like to embody desire.
I wish I was the type

of person who says, I don’t care
what other people think
,

and actually means it.
I don’t like admitting

that white propaganda
has caked itself onto my brain.

Like a week old sunburn,
I am peeling a little more every day.

Once I swang at the Barbie-shaped
piñata while my tío tugged at the rope.

Her yellow, tissue-paper hair rustled
in the hot March air while the next kid cracked

her rib cage open. My brown friends and cousins
watched her hemorrhage

with strawberry candy
I ate all week long—


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