Grito de Vieques

Aya de León

[This poem is read by the author MP3 of this poem]

My name is Vieques
I am a Puerto Rican girl.
My stepfather is the United States.
He comes into my room at night to do his business.

My names is Vieques.
I used to dream that Spain, my real father, would come back and rescue me.
But he’s gone for good.
I have only the faint and echoing voices of Africana and Taina ancestors telling me that
I can survive this.

My name is Vieques.
When my body started to change, my stepfather dressed me in a clingy, itchy dress.
“Smile,” he told me. “Smile at the nice foreign military man,” and pushed me toward him.
The military man was not nice.
His skin was pasty. He breath smelled. I couldn’t understand his language.
He came into my room and did his business.

My name is Vieques.
Sometimes my stepfather sells me to whole groups.
He calls them allied forces.
I fought back the best I could with chains and live bodies and fishing boats.
It happened anyway.

My name is Vieques.
I am still fighting back.
I am bigger and stronger now.
I have put a church, an encampment, a struggle up at my bedroom door.
My stepfather can’t get in.
He has not been able to do his business for months now, longer than I ever dreamed.

My name is Vieques.
Without the shock of constant bombardment, the numbness is subsiding.
I look at my body and see the devastation.
Lagoons, like self-esteem, have dried up to nothingness.
My womb is wilting with radiation from illegally used uranium ammunition.
Where my skin was once lush and soft, I am scarred.
Old tanks, like cigarette burns, dot my flesh.
Unexploded bombs, like memories, may detonate in the future
when chosen lovers touch me in the wrong spot or without warning.

My name is Vieques.
The numbness is subsiding.
Tender shoots of grass push up toward the sky.
A lizard sneaks back to sun itself on a chunk of shrapnel.
A butterfly alights on a rusted out jet.
Fish slowly make their way back toward my shores,
no longer reverberating with shockwaves of violation.

My name is Vieques.
This is my body.
It may be worth eighty million dollars a year to you, Yanqui,
but it is priceless to me.

My door is barred.
I have burned the clingy, itchy dress.
The encampment grows stronger.
The lizards, the grass, the fish, the butterflies stand with me.
I’ll never be the same,
but I’ll never be yours again to do you dirty business.

My name is Vieques
and I will be free.


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