What is the poem "To You Who Would Wage War Against Me" by Kateri Akiwenzie about?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Poetry is all subjective. The interpretation of a poems lies heavily on what a reader is bring to the reading. So, what I can offer you is my understanding and interpretation of the poem.

there are many lines
you have not traced on my palms
still
you think you know me

when i speak
you nod knowingly
as if
you've already read my mind
and are only politely acknowledging
the confirmation of my spoken words

This stanza, of "To You Who Would Wage War Against Me", signifies the stereotypes that people hold when they base our character upon preconceived ideas about who we are.  The look at us, our clothing, our mannerisms, the way we speak ("there are many lines you have not traced on my palms").  The speaker of the poem knows that those around her do not listen- how many times have we been in this situation? We are talking and the only recognition we receive is that of a superficial nature-recognition that I am speaking, but they are not really listening ("are only politely acknowledging the confirmation of my spoken words").

By the end of the poem, it seems that a mother is talking to her child's father.  She feels betrayed that he has not taken true time to get to know her as a person- he only knows her superficially.

She fears that her daughter can see her fears, but her only thoughts are that her daughter has brought her more emotion than any fight ever has.

The narrator feels abandoned emotionally by the father of her child.  In the end, she knows that her daughter is the only one who can truly see inside her. It is her daughter's true understanding that calms her fears about the contemplations.

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