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Nobody’s Body: Three Poems by Aimee Suzara

eating crabs with your fingers pre-Spanish fork and spoon and pre-KFC native chicken you can be served by dancing feathered natives that is true it all tastes good

By Aimee Suzara

For this week’s Poetry Tuesday we bring you “Catalog of Objects,” “The lungs are essential,” and “because going home is not always romantic” from Aimee Suzara’s first book, Souvenir (WordTech Edition, 2014). In these poems, the speaker inhabits spaces in which bodies—including the speaker’s—are “othered,” exhibited, fit into spurious contexts, and taken away or apart by an outside gaze. Suzara brings attention to how a body can be minimized into a “catalog of objects” in which certain “objects” are prioritized in terms of what is seen as “essential” or “romantic.”

—Emily Yoon, Poetry editor

Catalog of Objects

1 Bahag
1 Skirt
1 Beaded bag
2 Beaded necklaces
3 Carved statues of the rice god
1 Set of Filipino playing cards

You walk into the Missouri History museum. You see white everywhere: alabaster casts of women in Victorian dresses, plaster infused with “staff” from the Philippines. Lion heads and the columns of the Palace of Fine Arts. Victorian men and women sit atop elephants, smiling in tall black hats and mustaches and finely pressed jackets, brown men on either side. The placard marked “Labor” shows Africans and Asians bent over to build, to clean, to make the Fair grand.

You dream that night: statues a creepy feel swimming in dark waters I touch warm flesh underwater underfoot find out they’re dead recently dead lots and lots of stairs two six-year-old boys they want me to follow them the bus is waiting I’m lagging like I don’t want to go the bus is parked above lots of steps it’s really hot moving slow there’s a woman who likes me slippers on slippers off I can’t find mine now a movie theater and behind the theater a shopping market

2 Bontoc Head Hunters
1 Visayan Girl
1 Geisha Girl
1 Esquimaux Family
1 Hoochie Coochie Girl

You see the daguerreotypes of Filipinos, Native Americans, Eskimos, Arabs, and Japanese, assembled in one cluster on the wall. Nearby, you see playing cards of Filipinos and a beaded Bagobo dress behind the glass case. You see your face reflected in the glass.

because going home is not always romantic

and even though it is in fashion to be mixed blood and/or light skinned and/or ethnically ambiguous and/or kinky-haired and light skinned and/or dark skinned and straight-locked and/or with an unidentifiable accent and/or checking the box that says decline to state    I have been called Pocahontas by a little white kid and let me estimate 29 times asked if I am Native American and 23 times Hawaiian and 19 times Tibetan or Indian and now let me forget the times I was asked almost accurately but then sometimes I wished I really was those other things that’s the funny thing

and even though its all about going to our roots and mango trees and banana leaves and coconuts and avocado oil for healthy hair and skin and eating crabs with your fingers pre-Spanish fork and spoon and pre-KFC native chicken you can be served by dancing feathered natives that is true it all tastes good but really there is also the glue-sniffing children with no shirts hawking towels cross-cut with twelve year old strippers red lights beer bellied white men gawking cross-cut with high rise proper English speaking businessmen with Spanish names wives applying bleached skin products sold on every counter is not very romantic I assure you.

The lungs are essential

With found text from Gray’s Anatomy

the lungs
are essential
organs of respiration
taking in
and translating
the ethereal
into word

they are two
in number
like two lovers
curled together
placed one
on either side
within the thorax

by the heart
and other contents
of the mediastinum

it floats in water
crepitates when handled
owing to the presence of air
in the alveoli

the lungs
are essential.
they are two
in number

they are highly
their surfaces