Poetry: May 2018 Puerto Rico by Isabel Acevedo

Poetry has always endeavored to create a space where land and body can reveal their unity, political and otherwise—Isabel Acevedo’s poem swims in this tradition. With “May 2018, Puerto Rico,” she’s invited us into that very specific pain of May 2018, relying on dramatically gripping testimony of her own flesh and limb.


May 2018, Puerto Rico

When they come for my father, I will pull on the dark red knot in my chest until the thread
escapes my mouth. I will dig a hole beside the mango tree and, finally, bury it. I will not say
there is no God. When they come for my sister, I will carve out a cave in my stomach to carry
her laughter, her pink lipstick, and all her pain. I will not say there is no God.
But when they come for my mother,

++++++++++++++++++++++++++I will shave my head and burn my hair. I will cut my hands
++++++++++++++++++++++++++at the wrist and feed them to the cardinals. I will open my
++++++++++++++++++++++++++scream loud enough to break heaven.

We swim in dirty water and no one will lead us to land.

Isabel Acevedo

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in central Florida, Isabel Acevedo's work deals with cultural identity and separation. After earning her BA at the University of Central Florida, Isabel relocated to Georgia where she completed her MFA at Georgia College and State University. Her poems have been published in Aster(ix), Berkeley Poetry Review, Tule Review, Mortar Magazine, and others. Her work has also been anthologized in Georgia’s Best Emerging Poets from Z Publishing. She is a two-time winner of the Frankye Davis Mayes Poetry Prize and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Visit her website to read more: iacevedo.com.

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