Our Bodies, Our Islands,
Our Waters Remembering

by Gisselle Yepes

                                        after Wela, “cuando tu sueña el mar, algo se va ahogar”
                                        or when you dream the ocean, something may be taken from you.

I’ve dreamt my mother twice in the last week. And in both dreams,

she drowned. In the first, I woke before the ocean. In the second,

she laid there in a park against a gate that knows the bruising

of concrete and I woke with the whiff of alcohol under my nose.

I do not know how to explain my relationship with my mother,

but I remember that night last summer.               I bathed her bruises

with a balm I cannot remember the name of, but I remember

her island green.               On that night, we lived in the only apartment

in the Bronx, in the only apartment with light, under this fluorescent

microscope. If you stare into a microscope’s light longer

than you stare at your mother’s skin now brown, now oiled

with something that does not disappear the violence of a man’s hands,

you will begin to dream.                On that night, I dream my palm:

a succulent with the moisture of an aloe vera’s fingers,

how Mami’s body was a soil he had not touched. I do not bleed

when my soil grieves. I bled for one hundred-and five-days

while in my last relationship, how our waters archive our memory.

1 in 4 women will experience physical violence by their intimate

partner.                On that night, my mother looks exactly like me,

pouring from the shadows of her soil, where there was no water

except that which arrived with salt.                I call my mother.

I tell her of my dreams. I do not tell her of the gate.

She begins with don’t worry about me mama, I’m fine and ends

with ay mami, es que tu siente todo, oh how you feel everything. Still,

I hold the photos of her soil, malnourished. The nausea returns.

Oh, how I will wail if she dies in his hands.           Or, her own.

I do not know how to explain my relationship with my mother,

but I remember her silence after her and him and her and her.

This is how she wakes before the ocean           or how she drowns.


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