in the waiting room

i was born in Shawnee Territory

what today is claimed and renamed as ohio

that land was not mine to be born in

that/this land is not mine to live in

that/this land is not mine to plant seeds in

that/this land is not being rented, or borrowed

that/this land is stolen

i have participated in a history of colonial resettlement with my presence

on this land for 24 years

the humans that birthed me are refugees on this land

pushed from their homelands to claim another

this land is not

their land

this/their land was beautiful once, untamed as they say

this/their land fed its people and that was enough for them as they say  

this/their land was not being used to its fullest potential as they say

this/their land will be turned into something better they say

i was given the first name of  hazel

i was given the last name of batrezchavez

i am the product of a two humans, one born in Tampico,

Mexico, the other born in San Marcos, El Salvador

i choose to perform my biological gender, that being

female, and according to the united states census

i am categorized as latina


one night i heard a whisper that spoke to my heart

and not to my ear

She told me

“you need to prepare for war.

the body feels it quicker than the mind,

it knows when it is under attack,

it knows how to submit to the conqueror and

has been trained to resign"

in the Waiting Room i am lying in white sand

i get up confused

whiteness to my right and to my left

i am naked

with only a pair of black boots on

i do not know how i got here

my honey-colored skin stands out

as the sun shines down on it


our car is in line at the border

i have my passport in hand, and my barbie doll in the other

they throw light on my face to examine and justify

if I really am who i say i am

they look at my parents and then

they look at me in the back seat

Can You Step Outside of the Vehicle?

my mom forgot her passport

she isn’t with us

they told me this wasn’t her place to begin with

is there something wrong my dad asked

We Are In America Now

Speak English they said


in the Waiting Room

i am lying in white sand

i get up confused

whiteness to my right and to my left

i am scared

i start to run

i try to find someone

but there is no one

and nowhere to go

the white sand stretches for miles and consumes me


i am

in my grandmother's apartment in

Chumash Territory

what today has been claimed and renamed as part of california

she lived in van nuys

in a small one bedroom

and she was hemming my dress

while i was under the sewing machine

pretending it’s a car

she is singing cri cri to me

Negrita Sandia Ya No Digas Tonterias

i look down at my honey-colored skin

i wanted to yell

but i couldn’t


i have no voice in the Waiting Room

instead i just keep running


i find myself in the second grade classroom

my class is going to put on a play

about the cowboys and the indians

about global expansion is what the teacher says

i told her i wanted to be a hairstylist like my mother

because everyone had to do their hair at one point

she gave me the part in the play called Mexicana

on the day of the play, my mom helped me get dress

she pulled my hair back really tight and put a flower in it

she let me borrow her earrings, the ones she loved

and she let me put lipstick on for the first time

hijole mi amor mas mexicana te puedes mirar


in the Waiting Room

i am lying down again

and i start to think, did i do it right?

i no longer try to run

i remember her words

“you need to prepare for war.

the body feels it quicker than the mind,

it knows when it is under attack,

it knows how to submit to the conqueror and

has been trained to resign”


i am in high school now

it is lunchtime and i am eating hot cheetos

sitting under the sun, talking with my two best friends

talking about tv shows and gossiping about everything

my friend itxy and i focus on the way diana talks

how she pronounces some words with an english accent

we would repeat it in spanish

but she said she couldn't talk like that,

it was either in english or in spanish

not with the both

not in this country

i close my eyes and sunbathe


i open my eyes

in the Waiting Room

laying down i think about if when i get out

will i speak in english or in spanish?

i know i don’t have a voice, i open my mouth

but i can’t yell, nothing comes out

i wonder, will the choice be mine

if not, then whose?  


i am sitting in the college counselor’s office

my dad is next to me

the counselor says, “I Have Three Kinds of Colleges For You, Your Safety Schools, The Schools You Might Get Into and the Reach Schools”

why are some of these schools community schools?

my dad wants to know why you put community schools on here

“Well We Thought It Would Be Best For You If You Attended A School Where the Majority of the Student Body Is Made Up of People Just Like You”

dad they are just options

“Okay I Also Wanted To Talk To You Both About Affirmative Action, If You Highlight Your Struggle and Your Families Struggle. More Than Likely You Will Get Into A School. Don’t Forget To Check The Latin Box In Your Applications Colleges Say They Don’t Look At That But They Do.”


i heard her again

it had been a while since i heard her voice

i had never heard her in the Waiting Room

she spoke to my heart and not my ear

“prepare yourself because this what they call war”

i felt my body again

anger filled it

i looked down at my boots

i am not sure if i understood her

but i listened

there are times when the body feels it quicker than the mind

it knows when it is under attack


i am in Meskwaki Territory  now,

what today has been claimed and renamed as iowa

i am a temporary visitor on this land

i am here for only four years

one night i am walking back to the dorms

i had a long shift waiting tables

it is really late and my feet hurt

but my dorm is only a few blocks away

before i can react i see the truck

get near me

the one with the confederate flag

they didn’t throw bottles at me that night

like they did to my friends

they didn’t yell at me to go back to my country

like they did to my friends

but they did drive really slow next to me

and that was enough to make me run


i continue to run in the Waiting Room

i am tired of running

but i need to see if i can find someone, anyone


it is my last semester

four years went by quickly

i went to meet with my anthropology professor

i waited for her in the classroom where they stored all of the

skulls of hominids, etc.

as i waited for my professor

my friend walked past the classroom

and saw me sitting down and stopped to chat

at that moment my professor walked in and asked

“Who Are You And What Are You Doing In My Classroom”

before i could say anything my friend said

i am a student here, why are you looking at me like that?

the professor then excuses herself and returns ten minutes later

with campus security

they asked me for my friend’s name

but she left already

i didn’t give it to them

when the security left i asked the professor

why did you did you call campus security on her?

“I Felt Threatened” she said


in the Waiting Room

i don’t want to keep going

with every step i take

my boots sink more in the sand

breathe in through your mouth

and out through your nose

keep going, she says to my heart


i am in Pueblo Territory

what today has been renamed and reclaimed as albuquerque, new mexico

i flew from Meskwaki Territory to Chumash Territory

and then drive through the Kitanemuk Territory, Serrano Territory, Southern Piautes Territory, Chemehuevi Territory, Mojave Territory, Yavapai Territory, Apache Territory, Zuni Territory, and Navajo Territory

to be here

where i am meant to be, i tell myself

but something doesn’t feel right

i don’t know what it is

in the first semester

i failed the woodshop test

i went for one drink the night before

it was only one beer

i don’t know how i failed it honestly

i am in the sculpture area, i’ve worked in both

the metal and woodshop before

the instructor and i went over the test the next class

and he asked me

“Is There Anything In Particular You Are Struggling With In the Class?”

i was honest, i told him that sometimes it's hard to follow when he  jumps from machine to machine

and that there were some i wasn’t familiar with it and didn’t even get to use and it was hard to be tested without the hands on experience

he said “Okay, So You’re Having Trouble Following Along.

Do You Know How To Speak English?”

it was hard to concentrate after he said that


in the Waiting Room

i heard her whisper again

she spoke to my heart and not to my ear

keep going, fight


i went to the graduate office

and tried to put in a complaint

she told me that the instructor has a history

of butting heads with strong females in the shop

she said dont tell anyone i told you

afterwards, i got an email asking to meet with the head of the department

i could feel her empathy, her empathy that i knew

was only going to last as long as this meeting

maybe that was the problem

“We Will Put It In His File” she told me

and that was the end of that


in the Waiting Room

it is harder to run in the sand now

the sand mountains feel bigger

and harder to climb

my feet feel heavy with each step i take

my boots sink more in the sand

breathe in through your mouth

and out through your nose


it's friday night

and i am taking tables at a fine dining restaurant

i need to buy two media players

tonight i served an old white couple

whose skin was the color of the white sand

and they asked me,

“Honey You’re So Beautiful, What Are You?  

My Husband Said Middle Eastern But I Think Something Caribbean”

what are you? i asked


i go through the motions

i wake up in the Waiting Room

wait for someone or something to call me out

and return to the waiting room

what am i? who am i?

i feel heavy

i feel like i am crumbling

and i can barely hold myself up

keep going she tells me


i am laying in the studio with my friend

my head rests on his shoulder

he smells really nice  

and his skin is as white as the sand

my skin is the color of honey

i focus on our breathing

he exhales and

i inhale

he is doing the talking and i am not really listening

but then he said it “ I Don't See Color In My Life, I Don’t Really See You, I Never Have”

and i felt my body disappear in front of him

disappear in front of myself


but i am still here

here in the Waiting Room

just sitting and waiting

i breathe in through my nose

out through my mouth

i don't yell or run

i don't need to anymore because

i understand her now

the body feels it quicker than the mind

it has been and is trained to resign