Webster's Dictionary


I see myself defined by the attack on terrorism news,
by the man’s face wrapped in a traditional turban,
worn for all the wrong reasons as they speak
with broken and accented english.
I see myself defined by justified yet misplaced resentment,
by the man’s trembling and destructive fists,
heading towards the innocent
in the name of the lord I define myself with
I see myself interpreted by what I wear on my head,
by the words “oppressed” and “ignorant” forced through one ear,
taking years for me to bully them out the other,
with my mother’s reassurance and my father’s pride.
I see myself interpreted by the conservativeness of my clothing
by the layer over layer to cover the extensive skin
unexposed to the tanning sunrays, never traced by man’s desire
in the name of the modesty I define myself with
I see myself interpreted by what I can’t and can do,
by the UD sign on jello and the K for kosher on granola bars
searching through the menu for chicken
as the waiter crosses out the pork.
I see myself defined by the shortcuts past the wine aisle
by the non-alcoholic beverage label on apple cidar
while people try to explain the freedom they receive
at the end of a satisfying bottle I refused
in the name of the religion I define myself with.
I see myself silhouetted by the woman in the mirror,
by her puzzled eyes and furrowed, thick eyebrows
associated with her family’s heritage as she’s heard countless times
as she contributes to the speech with an eye roll and an exasperated sigh.
I see myself defined by her meaning when she speaks,
by her actions and the places her feet take her,
then slowly, by the curve of her lips, when she smiles
she finally recognized the falsehoods of others’ definitions
     In the name of this woman in the mirror I choose to define myself.  
This poem is about: 
My family
My community
My country
Our world


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