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  • Exilic Landscape or the body in rapture
  • Leanne Trapedo Sims (bio)

"The European eye will be disappointed in Africa as long as it seeks in African landscapes European tones and shades."

—J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace

"In a country where any physical or mental peculiarity in a child is a source of deep family shame, my parents, who had become accustomed to facial birthmarks, cucumber-nose and bandy legs, simply refused to see any more embarrassing things in me."

—Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children

In Disgrace, a diatribe on the personal abdicated by political ignominy, (Coetzee scribes his life)David     a white professor, falls in rapture with Melanie (with an e)v   a disenchanted student in his literature seminarHe rapes herHarangued (from David's point of view) by a bevy of blistering feminists

David travels by car to the forsaken Cape veldtWhere rather than redemption, he spectates his lesbian-daughter-gang-rapedbyThree black menAs his eye-ball lies burningNext to the toilet seatHe does nothing, sees nothingHis balls nailed to the cross,A sweating Judas [End Page 319] Salman Rushdie goes on to sayI had learned that secrets were not always a bad thing

I am wondering how to let goAnd live in the now that's what the yogis sayTo rid myself of the shame that is me and youI hang outside of your windowOn the hoary cornerNot far from the taro shave ice standIt's dirty and it smellsYou come hurtling outCrimson embroidered in your blue eyeToni Morrison's bluest eyeYou throw me down your stairsScrew my arm behind my backI am wondering how to let go& live like the yogis do

Weeks later I have not let goEven though I placed the gargantuan photo of us (that you hurled) withIts crack, a gritty giggle at my heartUnder a pile of dislocated clothesMy Elvira-esque fringeAn onyx that you and my dad both hateAnd my enameled toothThat I hate     a faint ghostI am aging daily     today I pulled out a few wiry grays andHung them on your grey-blonde hairs

Yes I certainly have not let goYou eat me out to the cacophony of tsunami sirensAnd the only reason that I buried the photo with a crackWas a deceit(after all I can never really let go of you)because my new man delivered me back to the Mānoa hide-outin the armpit of the Chinese Cemeterywhere you took me on a tombstone atop letters I could not decipher

and I couldn't let him seethe ruin of your alabaster breast against my murky moundafter unspeakable trysts in Big Islandthat didn't involve tsunamisor Gertrude Steinfor that matter [End Page 321]

Leanne Trapedo Sims

leanne trapedo sims was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, where her commitment to social justice was fermented. She is delighted that her poem "Exilic Landscape or the body in rapture," and her essay "Love Letters: Performative and Biological Families," are part of the Frontiers special issue. She received her PhD in American Studies from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa in 2017. Her work is a cartography—a bridge between social justice advocacy and scholarship that interrogates failures in the contemporary carceral archipelago. While historical and contemporary prison literature addresses the Black male as the most marked body in the prison industrial complex, Trapedo Sims's intervention highlights the testimony of women, including that of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women who are overrepresented in Hawai'i's carceral landscape. Between 2012 and 2016 she was a feminist ethnographer and creative writing teacher at the sole women's prison on O'ahu—the Women's Correctional Community Center.



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