by Christine M. Rains
In 1955 a man, the color of the powdered ration milk,
Came to Humacao, my barrio.
Except this one wasn't talking about
Jesús or building us a library to remind us
We can't read. No, this one had a name
That got business done in two syllables,
and didn't fill up your mouth like mine.
John Rock.
He said he would give us free pills
That would somehow stop the babies from coming;
To trust him.
And since I had four already, I felt lucky
And signed things I couldn't read,
Scared they would give them to someone else
And said I promised to give birth
If I became pregnant,
Dar a luz, to give light.
The first time I put the pill
In the nest of my tongue and let
The coating dissolve into a puddle
Because it was hibiscus-pink como dulces.
I spat it out fast because it
Tasted like still-green plantains.
I felt bad because I lied to the man
Who came to see me every month
And said I took all the pills.
It was good to talk to mis amigas
About nausea, tease them about their chichis
Swelling and giggle at how hard it was to let
The cotton-ball words tumble out of our
Mouths when the man with the chart asked
Us about sex. We felt close and important,
We were the chisme but we had each other,
Till some of us got real sick,
But the doctor told us not to worry,
The ratones always got better.
They came like a hurricane and left
Taking the tiny pills with them
And leaving us with chachos
Hungry for sexo sin consecuencias,
But we've done alright,
We're where you head when you're looking
For sin consequencias
Anyhow, it's right next to the
Fried pork rinds and orange soda, at the paletero.
Though, the gringas,
or maybe if was for the gringos,
they got independencia,
Their bodies never having to know
What being an occupied territory is.