Puerto Rico: "If a Tree Falls in an Island"

"Statue of What?" in solidarity with Puerto Rico, artwork by Bo Thai

Coming Soon: Stories from Hurricane María

by Emma Crow-Willard and Roots of Unity Media

Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm,

edited by Yarimar Bonilla and Marisol LeBrón

If a Tree Falls in an Island: The Metaphysics of Colonialism

by Ana Portnoy Brimmer

published in Aftershocks of Disaster

Ah, what an age it is

When to speak of trees is almost a crime

For it is a kind of silence about injustice!

-Bertoldt Brecht

but even the trees spoke

snapping like dry bones / under the weighty foot of weather

sparking and slung over power lines

last attempt at sustained flight / sputtering sap and blood

branches a thousand arms reaching / routed / rotting

bark marbled fungus and termite

consider the fright of a flamboyán

skirts upturned

robbed of red / roots ripped

from the earth's scalp

consider the cry / of a carambola

struck down / stripped bare

starfruit putrid sweet

of the ground / lost aspiring body of the cosmos

consider the plight of a plantain

self-suffocated / wrapped in its own leaf / hijos dying inside

sprouting back like jagged teeth

twisting arthritic fingers / both growing and graves

to not speak of trees now / when even the trees

have spoken / is the deadliest of silences

for when a tree falls in an island / and the world

is around to hear it / the island drowns

for a tree is no longer a tree / and semantics like leaves change

it is memory burnt into body / 7 months piled up on a sidewalk

blocking the street / at your doorstep

blighted wood and abandonment

it is death at its slowest / an unlinking mirror

steadfast rustle / of gutting truth

that if a people fall on an island / and the world is around to hear it

we make a sound--but only the ocean responds / with a swallow

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