Fresh Friday: A Litany of Things That Were Never Yours For The Taking

Content Warning: Sexual assault, franchise colonialism, settler colonialism, anti-Black racism, cisgenderism/transphobia, misogyny, femmephobia

Image description: A photograph taken by Lukayo Estrella of the Mayon Volcano, with coconut trees and lush jungle in the foreground. The text over the photograph reads: “A Litany of Things That Were Never Yours For the Taking” and “patreon.com/lukayo“.

A Litany of Things That Were Never Yours For The Taking by Lukayo Estrella

My lips, my ass, my chest, my genitals, my skin
Were never yours for the taking

My skirt, my tights, my lipstick, my eyeliner, my outfit
Were never yours for the taking

My community of femmes and tender-hearted skin-showers
Were never yours for the taking

My land of volcanos and coconuts and underground metals
Were never yours for the taking

This land of beaver and white pine and tobacco and underground oil
Were never yours for the taking

This body and spirit you called your “island princess” and your “Asian school girl” and your “Pocahontas”
Were never yours for the taking

This body and spirit you said should be grateful a gay man would touch to prove I was a “real boy”
Were never yours for the taking

This body and spirit you said didn’t matter what gender as long as you could have me underneath you
Were never yours for the taking

Our language, our culture, our spirituality, our tattoos and art, the things you can profit from while my people starve
Were never yours for the taking

The Black bodies, and culture, and spirituality and art, the things you can profit from while Black people starve
Were never yours for the taking

I end this litany with a prayer and a curse
Like my great grandmother Lola Colo would have done
Village healer who prayed to angels from Latin bibles
And called the ancestors to our rice-laden tables
My father says I have her face

So here is my prayer:

Dearest Gugurang and Bathala
Dearest Creator
Dearest Ancestors
Whose presence is always at my back
Even when the weight of oppression is unbearable
Even when the slurs and the sneers cut my flesh
Even when they use my skin colour as an excuse to rape me
Even when they use my clothes as an excuse to rape me
Even when they use my genitals as an excuse to rape me
Even when they use my disability as an excuse to rape me
Even when they use my sexuality as an excuse to rape me
Even when they use their superiority as an excuse to rape us and the earth

Give me strength

From the hundreds of years of repelling colonization from our shores and our hearts
That I can share with those indigenous to these lands who have been repelling
Colonization from their shores and hearts
That I can share with those who have been stolen and enslaved and fighting for freedom

Give me strength

From the many babae and bakla and tibo and asog, the feminine and nonbinary
That runs in my bloodlines and burns in my magma-hot chest
Whose bodies died on the front line and were fed to crocodiles
Whose curses still linger on their lips to be heard in my ears

Give me strength

From every body and spirit who shared space with me
And believed me and supported me and uplifted me
And told me I never, ever, fucking deserved this

Give me strength

To keep screaming to the fucking heavens
And curling my small brown fists
And existing, silent, and immovable
To prove
That there are some things, some people, some spirits in this world
That cannot be taken
That will keep fighting and loving and breathing
For a world of offerings and consent

And here is my curse:

To all you conquistadors
Still out there, thinking that
Bodies and land are just here for the taking

Lintian!
May your heart be struck by lightning
So that the flames of compassion consume you
Until your life is devoted to giving back
Until your every word is a prayer of healing and reparations
Until your every deed is a litany of community transformation
Until you make sure there are no longer any other conquistadors left
Who believe there is anything that is theirs just for the taking


Wanna hear the whole poem and have a larger version of this photo that I took? Better yet, want to commission me to write a poem and draw something for you? Check out the link below and become a patron. For as little as $1/month you can support healing work among my communities, and the indigenous Elders that mentor me,

https://www.patreon.com/posts/21116998