Emily Pérez

I learned my mother’s white
tongue, her white words
in white books impressed on crisp
white pages, stories set in white countries
under soft, white snow. I’d never seen snow,
but knew enough to desire its cleansing
cold, its regions where the white cheeked
damsel with her long, white hair could cede
space to the knight, white on his horse
who whinnied whitely. I’d never ridden a horse,
but knew to fantasize about one, as that’s what white
girls did, and even if I never got bedded
by a stable hand or CEO, some tall white man
who could explain things to me, I knew that if I learned
the white language, its syntax and rightness, then,
like a cloud pristine and drifting, I’d be lifted,
I’d look down on my dark home from that unbroken sky.

Emily Pérez is the author of House of Sugar, House of Stone and the chapbooks Backyard Migration Route and Made and Unmade. A CantoMundo fellow, her poems have appeared in journals including SWWIMCopper NickelPoetryDiode, and RHINO. She teaches English and Gender Studies in Denver, where she lives with her husband and sons.