To The 4,645 Dead In Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria or Dear Maria

by Irisdelia Garcia
i heard they were burying grandmothers in the backyard
i heard they found their babies in the waters
i heard the morgues were full
and that the sick lay in the heat of packed emergency rooms
waiting for death to boil them alive under
an unforgiving white-hot sun
i heard that you have no water
that you’ve been using the water from the floods
to flush your toilet
i heard that your roof was ripped open
and heard the hurricane strip my heart
out of my ribs
taking veins and muscle along with it
leaving me nothing but the bones of a mourner
i heard that we’re ghosts now
as fleeting as the chirp of a coqui
i heard your roof rip
along with your smile
i heard you mourn for tu patria
i heard your lips fall to the ground
in a kiss, trying to speak to the land and ask why
i did not hear you cry, though
i am reminded in this moment that
RESILIENCE was a genetic mutation
from daughter to daughter to daughters who grew up too fast
we don’t talk about it
i did not hear that Carlos Santana song
and the riffs of his guitar
as if strings, too, cry
Maria, Maria
you look like the people who wrecked me
they exist in memory and in the way
i cry out
i heard you scream when you met the land
it was shrill, it flooded the streets
you have good people fishing through your wailing
to find grandmothers
that i heard they’ll bury in the backyard
i heard they are dead because of you
i died along with them
i heard you cry
i heard you cry, Maria
i heard you cry
with agua negra pouring out your mouth
and the devil lends a claw
to wipe bile off our chin
and the devil whispers “you ask too much”
when he caresses your cheek
when all we ask for is a coffin
that can hold the baby found floating
in the dirty bath water of San Juan
the devil has always existed
i know because he was there when
they buried grandmother in the backyard
he placed a flamboyan’s flower
on the mound of wet dirt
because he heard, too
the devil heard, too
and he laughed a laugh that sounded like
when coquis do not chirp anymore
i heard the devil tried to cry
i heard the devil try to cry
but i heard he had no water, too