Marianela Medrano was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and has lived in Connecticut since 1990. A poet and a writer of nonfiction and fiction, she holds a PhD in psychology. Her literary work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. In a TEDx Talk at Ursuline College she speaks about her work and research on the Taino people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pQeBYd2oJk.
Mama WhatsApps a picture of a boy missing his eyes and liver. This is the new industry, she writes. Please, take care of your niños—she means girls too. I am looking for a home where to shelter us, the abstracted, dislocated, disembodied, and integrated ones. The boy is about twelve—in the picture his brown penis lies tiredly against the blossoming gauze. Sharks and doves break me in half, winged dreams hinging from these lines. I mean to say I woke up to a nightmare before going to bed. No, my tears are not going to restore his organs. I know. I’ll hang a garland of love from his neck. I’ll keep vigil until his body wakes up. I’ll bring Mama back to our land, to till the earth, to plant seeds—she has no business being here.
In the island, spirits and people walk under umbrellas, fear whistling between the metal rays. Fear of rain, love, and the biggest of all, sunlight. Fear lodges in the fabric screen, stretching over the hinged ribs radiating out of the central pole. I touch the handle and hear the loudest warn: “Don’t get too dark. No one will love you.” I hear it as “You are not lovable.” “You are no Virgin Mary.” The handle goes through me. I emerge from death, breathing, seeing, feeling, breathing, breathing. Neither umbrella nor fear, I am awareness.
An angel falls each day in the plantation. Not Salvador, he built his house from dreams. Yet, the devil speaks, slashes, and cuts through my words, shredding his innocence. Clowning is an art. The CEO pauses among brown workers, along the vine rows and in front of the little house with ten children, all speaking Nahuatl. Each tongue learning to lie and hide. We all fall down. Is there always blood where there is red? I am making tomato soup. Who will save me or him? The note to the consumer says he is a tap away on YouTube. Salvador speaks Nahuatl and Spanish, no English. He praises his twenty years as a driver. He drives the tomatoes, they were raised right, like his kids—the package says. The wholefood market brings them to me, the tomatoes—I mean. Somebody, anybody, please tell me I am wrong. There is a Salvador who lives in his little house, with his ten children, speaking Nahuatl and Spanish, happily and proudly.