La Gran Historia


After Solmaz Sharif

By Alonso Llerena

To be called Mexican when you are not
To always be greeted Hola when you tired the mirror practicing hellos
To get naked in a pond
To realize ahogar sounds like hoguera and death by fire or water
__involves lack of oxygen, but I learned
To swim in fire before I learned what a pool is
To not be able to vote in an election, but still be mad
To crystalize your thoughts ten feet from an ICE agent
To become proud of your mother’s accent finally at 32
To reject assimilation later in life when a beautiful white lady asked
To explain an Internal armed conflict over a glass of pinot noir
To arouse her in my mother tongue
To impress her parents at the dinner table with my interest in words
__but face the fact: they feel good
To know someone a darker shade of skin than their own

To return to Lima and feel strange in calling it home
To be asked by the Peruvian cab driver: Where are you from?
To read 800 pages of blood, bone and dust only to revolt; it’s called Hatun Willukay, that’s A
__Great Story in the language of most victims
To realize GRUPO COLINA are a group of hills which surround Lima, but to take that language
__back means
To remember those hills smoldered with a hammer & sickle
To ask you to look at my face only by candlelight so you can understand why I had to run
Alonso Llerena is a poet, visual artist and teacher born in Lima, Peru. His work, which merges interpretations of historical events and personal history, attempts to document and honor the victims of the Internal Armed Conflict that fractured Peru from 1980 through 2000. He writes of immigration, exile, and identity. He teaches and writes in the Washington, D.C Metro area.