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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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