Poetry | Outside, Isla Libertá, And Smell Of Colony

June 4, 2021


We cry with our roofs below our feet
Inside we hide until it’s over
Outside under the moon so we can read

Inside we bleed from the Arawak wound
Outside the ones who left never to return
Inside the fear of the unknown

Outside the tyrants arrive like in 1898
Inside they eat the organs we puked from shock
Outside we are everyone’s utopia but our own


Isla Libertá

Shut my eyes to see you lively and light
You knew it was all yours again
The fort, the flag, the song, the bird

Opened my eyes to see you dying,
Drowning in a muddy bio bay,
Pale ravagers still owned you

I had made it up again, your freedom


Smell of Colony

“Colonizada” they call me because
I start in English and finish en Español,
But it’s not my fault that they arrived
by force, raping our coasts

I learned tongues that weren’t mine,
And I even carry their last names
I look in the mirror and see them
In my eyes, my nose, my forehead

“Colonizada” they call me and I AM
I smell of an old and tired colony
I start in English and finish en Español
My Taíno blood boils in both


Photo: Jose Santiago via Unsplash

Melissa Alvarado Sierra
Melissa Alvarado Sierra writes about the Puerto Rican experience. Her fiction and nonfiction work has been published or is forthcoming in The New York Times, ZORA, Catapult, Orion, The Caribbean Writer, The Puerto Rico Review, and elsewhere. She wrote a chapter about environmental justice in Vieques, Puerto Rico for the book The World We Need (The New Press 2021) and her book, La narrativa activista de Rosario Ferré (McGraw-Hill 2020), about literature as activism, dissects the themes of magical realism, feminism and national identity in the work of the Puerto Rican writer. Melissa is the 2020–2022 Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s Book Project teaching fellow. She's currently writing a memoir.


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