Cecilia - Guam's Indigenous Poet & writer
Poem - "Bare-Breasted Woman"

Bare-Breasted Woman
Copyrighted © Nov 1997

"For a moment
she had forgotten
where she was,"
the daughter said
of her mother
who, earlier that morning
had walked past convention,
past the waiting cover-up shirt,
into the garden,
in to the sun,
in, to the greens,
and the feel of the breeze.                  

She worked with breasts swaying
like her arms in color and swing.
There was grace in her stoop
and art in her till.
She worked, stooped, tilled
and planted,
even after
neighbors' gazes
called her
naked.

They could not see
that her skin
was their skin,
color brown
colored earth.

The sight of the woman
squatting,
close to ground,
too close to the color
of their own skin,
stripped them
and left
them
standing
naked,
brown
as the day
they were born.

Perhaps
they had forgotten
they were born
of this land
the color of earth,
born of salt sea
and born of salt air.

They
must have
forgotten,
for
as neighbors gazed
out pretty-picture
windows,
a dark
bare-breasted woman
was all
that they saw.

About the poem "Bare-Breasted Woman"


        Guam has become the new home to
peoples from Korea, China, Japan,
the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, India,
Thailand, Australia and the Continental
United States; but also
from the Northern Mariana Islands, Belau,
the Marshall Islands, the Federated
States of Micronesia, Hawai'i and
American Samoa.

        The sudden convergence of large
numbers of people from diverse ethnic origins,
has enriched Guahan with many languages, cultures
but also impacted the lives of the indigenous
people of the island - the Chamorus.

In particular, the negotiated
dissolution of the U.N. trusteeship of
Micronesia created U.S. compacts of free
association with the nations
of the Republic
of Marshall Islands and the Federated
States of Micronesia in 1986 and the Republic
of Belau in 1994.

These agreements allowed citizens from Belau, Chuuk Yap
Kosrae Pohnpei and Marshalls to travel
freely to Guam, Hawaii, & the U.S. to live,
study and work for an unlimited length of time.
According to Stars and Stripes, this was in exchange for using
using sites after 1946-1958 nuclear testing in Micronesia.
The 1986 compact resulted in a
sudden migration of FSM citizens
into Guam and avail to social services.
The US Fed govt reinburses $30 million a year
but the actual combined cost for Guam and Hawaii
alone is between $300 and $400 million per year
estimated by Anthony Babauta former assist secretary
of the US Dept of Interior (Mar-vic Cagurangan. 2013sep27.
www.mvguam.com/local/news/
31515-fas-migration-cost-guam-hawaii-up-to-400m.html)
Right click and download 2011 Dept Interior compact impact report.
Right click and download Guam Compact Impact report 2004 to 2009.

Misunderstandings of cultural differences
have placed the Chuukese (Chuuk is the largest, most
populous of the FSM's four states) under scrutiny
by the Chamoru people, and
others, that are similar to
criticisms made of the Chamoru
by the Stateside communities from
the 1960s to the present. This
poem points to the sadness of this irony.

Briefly, the casualty in the loss
of goodwill between Guam and her
island neighbors is attributed to
the absence of foresight by federal
negotiators who authored the
compacts of free association
without planning to ameliorate
their impact to the region,
indicated Congressman Underwood.
On June 7, 1998, the U.S. Immigration
and Naturalization Service addressed
the financial stress to Guam's
social service network by limiting
the stay of FSM visitors to one year
unless they are fully employed or
studying in school. Enforcement is said
to be impossible since no mechanism
exists to track the visitors.

In fairness, the FSM visitors are legal
immigrants, hard working, responsible
taxpayers who often take jobs
that some local people won't. "50% of Micronesians in those first
years were young, unmarried men," Dr. Don Rubenstein UOG anthropologist said.
"Now Micronesian households are demographically very normal households
sheltering 3 generations related through some kinship tie."
They are Guam's island neighbors
looking for a better life for
their children and willing to
sacrifice to realize their dreams.


Barline

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