By Iris Vang
Photo via Iris Vang
Editor’s Note: A couple of weeks ago, Iris Vang, 17, a youth leader with Faith in Merced’s Leadership Academy, had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Sisterhood Rising Camp in Portola, Calif. Spending a week in nature connecting with her cultural and ancestral roots inspired her to write about her experience as a young Hmong-American woman. Her poem ‘My Body’ is full of vivid imagery and is an ode to her culture.
My rough feet reminds me of my grandmother’s hard work in the fields.
My hands soft from never having felt the hardships of farming,
Small eyes that only saw the positives and never the negatives.
The vibrant red skin tone that shows the blood of refugees.
The hair that flows freely along the wind of spirits that are being freed at last.
Strong shoulders that have been given the opportunity to carry backpacks instead of guns and bullets.
My stomach full of stretch marks that represent each time I fell but was able to get back on my feet.
My thighs full of power and strength that allow me to fight on for justice for my people.
An enormous heart that continues to be passionate about the culture and traditions of the Hmong people.
Knowledge that can stretch as long as the Mekong River that my elders and ancestors crossed.
My body that reacts to emotions can once more breathe and find the truth in me that once was lost.