SPAM EATER by Rebecca L. (Torres) Holland
I. “The only stereotype I know about Filipinos is that they like to eat SPAM”
He told me proudly on our first date / he was so handsome and his eyes were so blue and I was so glad that he noticed me / I laughed it off but I didn’t realize that it would become a running a joke / told myself that it didn’t really matter / how could something like love of canned ham be genetic? / so what if it is? / I’m proud to be part Filipino / the language eludes me but they say food can unite us across cultures / when I tried to make SPAM ‘N CASSEROLE for dinner and share with him that childhood memory he refused to eat it
II. He thought it was funny to snap the photograph of me while I licked my lips and looked longingly at the can of SPAM that I held in my hand/ the harsh fluorescent lights of the grocery store robbing my flesh of its natural hue / #NoFilter/ #NoMakeup / #WokeUpHungry every night of my life/ they say you must control your image that you must define your narrative but what do you think of me when you see-
III. He doesn’t know it reminds me of childhood/ half of me is white but it’s the half that you can’t see/ SPAM ‘N NOODLE CASSEROLE was grandma’s specialty
IV. I remember the sweet salty taste and what it was like before the world broke in half / who knew so many warm memories could be connected to food? / I remember with my mouth that is why I need to run marathons/ to keep the calories from finding a home in my tan flesh-
I hear the camera click and turn/ he laughs/ “You like Instagram so much I know exactly what the caption should be –
“Filipinos love SPAM!”
V. I want to scream at him for centuries of oppression / I want to lecture him on why indigenous peoples needed to eat canned meat / I want to tell him my grandma was white and that casserole was delicious and if he could only-
He shows me the picture.
And like so many before me-
Kiss the colonizer.
Rebecca L. (Torres) Holland is a visually impaired Filipina writer and disability advocate who lives in Pennsylvania. She is particularly fascinated by the intersection of faith, disability, race, and gender. She is a staff writer at CAPTIVATING, a magazine that empowers people with disabilities, and her work has most recently appeared in Bold Blind Beauty, The Drabble, and Women Writers & Women’s Books. Her chapbook is entitled, Through My Good Eye: A Memoir in Verse. Rebecca blogs about literature and disability awareness at BeckieWrites.com. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @BeckieWrites. She collects owls.