“Bárbarazo… ¿tú no te piensas afeitar?” I heard him say to you y yo respondí, “Mi hermano, no le hagas caso y ojalá…” Ojalá when you’re grooming that dark oak rugged beard, as the Moroccan argan oil tames the frizz of your roots, ojalá you notice the resemblance between you and our Arabic brotherhood… your moro-eating self may not recognize what is in plain view the Moros y Cristianos that are mixed in your blood’s truth though over a millennium ago the conquest is still seen in your hair as its growth clings to your face marking you different than most a beard strategically shaven to carve out your mouth or shaped so that it is sprouting towards your cheeks leading me to see the nuez moscada colored windows of your soul it is the part of our ancestry that is hidden by some females bleaching and yellowing their hair as if blonde is what our European roots produced it is the part of our Spanish heritage we don’t declare it is the part of our identity that as Dominicans we cannot hide behind our ears it is a part of our culture spoken in our soul when we hear: ojalá, ojalá, oh Allah… it is on our face, our eyes and our ways of saying ‘God, I wish’ so go ahead let this beard remind your friend que Dios te dio barba porque tienes quija’… ojalá, ojalá, ojalá que en este país, con todo el terrorismo que está pasando que no te juzguen por ser auténticamente tú, dominicano y nada más. Copyright © 2015 Sydney Valerio. Connect with Sydney via INSTAGRAM Sydney Valerio, is a Latina from the Bronx of Dominican heritage, enjoys writing about the socio-cultural aspects of life that shape our perspective. She is an educator by trade and a New Yorker by birthright. Her poetry writing journey began as part of the Sunday Writing Circle, a workshop that is part of the Full Circle Ensemble. She hopes one day to publish her collection of writings so that they can be catalogued in the library located in her childhood neighborhood of Kingsbridge Road and University Avenue in the Bronx, N.Y.