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

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

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

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

must have
as neighbors gazed
out pretty-picture
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 the FSM and other
micronesian republics to travel freely within 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 (1/2 of island immigrants settled in Guam) and Hawaii.
The Pacific Sunday News, June 7, 1998
claims the impact of 10,000
FAS citizens on Guam is
straining the education and social
services to $20 million
a year beyond anticipated cost.
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.

President Clinton, on his visit to Guam
spoke of the impact and ordered federal
planners to double the budget of
reimbursing Guam for the compact.

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.


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