Self-Portrait in Off-White

because mami never said goodbye
because good sissy never swears except
     on her boyfriend’s soft kisses and tight hugs
because papi works too hard and too much
because i was going to write the great american novel
     but forgot
because i never speak to the tall man with the long
    fingers who sits
          at the bench on the corner
                except in rhyme
because i was never lullabied to sleep
because i am not in the history
because i had a pet rock with two
          googly eyes that sounded
               like an old lady’s beads clinking together
because i can never say yes without sighing
because mami used to pluck
          my eyebrows into thin
                black lines
                     hair by hair
          for beauty you have to make sacrifices
because my shadow haunts the other shadows
because i want to be immortalized in pictures
          like those 1920s girls who never smile
          whose eyes stare into the camera and suddenly
              become
                 two clear crystal balls
because i want to be ocean water
          and i want to take a dip in myself
because my feet have grown roots
because i lie naked on the tiles
          just to give my family enough time to miss me