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| To the men who raised me |

In my world, women are taught to be a mother first,

Cursed with the gift of gestating life,

Our important days are reduced to marriage or a Quince.

15 years of life counting down the seconds our womb can bear fruit.

Dress me up with a big bow, property to be given away.

I feel it in your eyes, your tone, your objectification, your sexualization.

That the world is run by men,

But I see it surviving in the tired hands of my aunts.

In the community of tias, primas, hermanas,

The women who stand strong like pillars

And build up the foundations in our homes, our lives.

Men aren’t as strong as they think,

Or as independent as they claim to be.

Machismo is as fragile as it is toxic,

Demonizing half of themselves at the fear of being whole.

I’ve heard time and time again you don’t need women

But fail to realize they are everything to you.

When we packed our bags, we took your security.

I witnessed the story of defeat empty frozen meals stacked in the trash told me.

Within these walls, you’ve caged yourself, truly unable to actually take care of yourself.

This is the only world you know and it unraveled the day we left.

To witness the damage, a few weeks without a cafecito or a packed lunch, can do.

A strong backbone in your life, you struggled to stand up without us

You walk around like proud men, but you will always remain a child.

I hope you remember now, that flores cannot grow without the rays of the el sol,

no matter the soil, or the place.

Whitney Salgado

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