A Collector’s Item

Her shop was overflowing with trinkets of ordinary appearance. She was an artist and as an artist she saw the beauty and magic of mundane objects in ways that many could not comprehend. For this reason rocks became living documentaries, succulents became isolated universes, and chips of wood became modes of communication.

At first glance, her shop was the embodiment of disarray, but upon closer inspection, it was evident that she had created sections with distinct functions. The northern-most corner – where the books were stacked by height and the walls were covered in an assortment of ever changing colors and lines – was used primarily for the indoctrination of unsuspecting victims. This corner represented her alter-ego: the educated woman who was tearing away at the established ivory tower not so that others could gain access, but rather so that she could demonstrate that chaos was beautiful. The southern-most corner was her least favorite because it represented work and structure. Although she fought this structure by tossing at it every conceivable art form, the glaring light of her monitor and crisp monthly calendar were fierce opponents that could not be vanquished. The east-facing corner was the most guarded section of her shop for it contained the one treasure that she valued above all else: her collection of people.
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The Trophy

I am the trophy child
The golden, shiny, perfect one
The cake-topper, holiday center-piece,
Filigree china piece you cannot touch.

I am the trophy daughter
Immaculate, pure, selfless
Intended as the prize for the man
Worthy enough to kiss my father’s feet.

I am the trophy wife
Alluring, untouchable
Giving, forgiving, forgetting
Forgotten.

I am the trophy woman
The silenced, suffocating,
Taken for granted one
Who longs for a liberating blemish.

———
“The Trophy” by Azul Serena

Azul Serena

I wrote this piece in honor of my pen-name. For many years I entertained different names but it wasn’t until I signed my name as “Azul Serena” that I felt I had found a name that represented my multicultural identity. This name allows me to think, feel, and write in both English and Spanish without having to justify my usage of either language.

* * *

I am not a writer. Rather, I am a patient of medicinal writing; writing that heals. It’s not a healing from trauma; it’s the healing from knowledge. Knowledge that comes from discovering who you are. Not the You that you portray, but the You that runs through your veins and pumps through your chest. A chest that heaves from the headiness of breaking free. Freedom that comes from shedding the name that belies your roots, your tongue, your soul. A soul that fits neither here nor there but only within me. I am Azul Serena.

———
“Azul Serena” by Azul Serena

Age is Only a Number

As I age one more year I try to convince myself that age is only a number. Unfortunately that has proven difficult when you consider the fact that one little number has the power to define an entire person. A number can make you too young or too old, too tall or not tall enough, too heavy or too slim, too cold or too hot. It’s never “just right.” There is always something lacking, something in excess, as though infinity were perfection and non-existence the ideal. The number is never enough. It’s selfish and needy. It is always a qualifier, and sexist at that.

If you are a man, numbers encourage you to grow tall as a redwood, to generate millions, and to forget the confines of your numeric age. After all, the higher the number the more respectable you become. As a man you have the luxury to feel blasé about numbers because you define them! But what a cage those numbers are when you are a man.

If you are a woman, numbers dictate that you aim for everything that is petite, meek, and fragile, because the last thing you want is to overpower Man. Make enough money to assert your independence but not too much lest you overshadow your partner – because you can’t not have a partner. Do not have children when you are too young but hurry, you do not want to exceed your expiration date. Do not date a younger man; it will make you a pariah. Marry an older man. He will make a respectable woman out of you because his age can morph in accordance with societal expectations. He will protect you; you who are invisible.

In an ideal world these confines would not exist. Numbers would be exactly what they are: abstract theoretical concepts dreamt by philosophers in their pursuit of knowledge. And, since it’s an ideal world these abstract symbols would not be linked to oppressive gender roles because gender would not be oppressive. Unfortunately, it’s not an ideal world. The abstract has been qualified and associated with everything that should never have been qualified.

So here I am, valiantly defying society’s gendered terms of aging one wrinkle, gray hair, and unused ovum at a time, wondering what wisdoms this year will bring.

———
“Age is Only a Number” by Azul Serena

Her

When you look at me
Do you see the unassuming girl
Who disappears behind the shadow of the passing faces,
Or do you see what I see in the mirror?
Do you see
A halo of reckless curls
Woven with coffee colored highlights, and
A pair of large, almond eyes
That are deeper than the sea and more soulful than the trees?
Do you see
That my timid lips hide a smirk and a tongue
That are laced with unapologetic truth?
Do you see
That my shoulders bear the weight of my success and
My hands are weathered from the labor of my mind?
Do you see
That my legs yearn to traipse the earth
Now that they have walked a mile in your shoes?
When you glance at my fading back
Do you wonder at the treasure you have missed?

———
“Her” by Azul Serena