These poems appeared in Spanish in Mara Pastor’s collection Falsa heladería, published by Ediciones Aguadulce (Bayamón, PR: 2018). Translations into English are by María José Giménez and Anna Rosenwong.
for Cindy, who knows about laughter
This island is full of women
who come back like returning
remains with the rising tide
or turtles to their natal shore.
They were prepared for the debt,
but not for heavy metals in the water,
cadmium in the ash they breathe.
Unprepared for the poverty of the house
for a piece of the pool collapsing,
a molar for which your mother
will have to wait three months
because illness also waits in line.
Now I’m walking on the breakwater.
I remember two people happy
about a past joy.
This time it’s daytime.
I just arrived by prop plane.
I don’t think I’ll succeed in writing
the comic poem about heads
Cindy asked me for when we were fundraising
for Elizam’s treatment,
but you’ll be a poem
about returning to a breakwater,
and weighing the pieces of this island,
its heavy metals,
the loved ones who leave;
thinking, from another shore, about survival,
and among so much Aedes, about love.
I come back to tread this land
and walk with the women
who return to this breakwater
to stop the rising tide.
Perishable Paradise I
Behind the old
there is a dock
we’d never seen before.
Despite the iron pilings
the boats are worthy
of a postcard,
if only we didn’t know
about the heavy metals
in the air.
Perishable Paradise II
In paradise there are oysters,
a man selling crabs,
a beach where the sun sets
while you hang your hammock.
In paradise they only prepare fish
at Caro Valle’s shop,
I float on the water
like islands float on an atlas
and your hands rock in slow motion
a drifting body.
If everything stays like this.
If everyone leaves now
that there’s no water,
money or coquís,
the island will be taken
and sea lions.
They will make me a bust.
It’ll be easy to be national poet
among gallinas de palo.
These poems appeared in Spanish in Mara Pastor’s collection Sal de magnesio (2015). Translations into English are by Eilyn Lombard.
SAL DE MAGNESIO (Fragments)
in some places
in others sealiving
in this place we
hurt one another with the sea
to talk about that which goes beyond us at the expense
I write as if I wanted to take back the words
to some place or better yet get rid of them altogether
here I body you
when to disembark is not an option
nor is staying on the boat
I submerge myself in magnesium salt
nothing I hear
the magnesium sulfate
makes the sea water
absorb the sound
what we will hear
when there is no more
sulfate in the sea
THE WATER (VARIATION IN PROSE)
Just a month ago, I was in another city where the
water made my hair fall out. Nor did my nails
grow. Here, instead, my hair has grown as if div-
ers could climb cliffs with it. Here, the nails want
to be clothes hangers. It could be because of the
water in this city. Also my nails hit the keyboard
and this made them stronger. It is like my nails
typing, keep diving into an empty swimming
pool. The water in this city is contaminated, the
water in the other city too. It is said that their
rivers may take you anywhere. People who know
this seek to block all the harbors. The loss of my
hair makes me think that you get older faster in
the other city. The contaminated water in this
city reminds me that we will also die here, but
with abundant and long hair.