I grew up in this place, where I was one of ten.
Ruben, Estrella, Perla, Bety, Carlos, Ariana, Joel, Flor and Fausto:
siblings all packed into a three-bedroom trailer.
My room was not my own. My privacy a special home.
It didn’t make me angry.
I was grateful.
To be here and not in El Rancho,
a Mexico of suffering.
But not everybody felt that love, the pride in being us.
So, my dark-skin became a mark, a sign of a rat-filled, insect infested poverty.
And when I opened my back-pack at school, and a brown roach crawled out.
I was disgusting.
I was ashamed.
My humble father’s job as a beef-production worker, became an embarrassment.
A Kansas Latina, dreaming of clean, white carpets and her own pink curtains.
But, I decided it didn’t matter.
The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.
Became the birds that brought me peace.
Now, shyness has disintegrated,
metamorphosed into a National Speech Qualifier, two-years in a row.
I am now three of two-hundred and sixty-two,
I am still grateful, for that cockroach that gave me drive.
Because from it, poverty became my model.
Hard-work my ideal.
Where I have emerged from is flawless.
this place, where I was one of ten.