IRMA & MARIA




I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but my motherland has just been violated by two back to back superstorms, Irma and María. We just narrowly avoided getting combed through by José.

Being an expatriate watching it all happen from the outside is painful. When Irma hit, Mom was back there and I was rendered useless for the entire day. I would obsessively refresh through the hurricane trackers and google news. Work wasn’t happening, and neither was my peace of mind. I wasn’t at peace the whole time we were incommunicado. The stress of wanting to be there to accompany my family through the monster storm was overwhelming and honestly rather crippling.

As if by a cruel twist of fate, she gathered her things and left with me on vacation. The trip to Marrakech was really long, but it gave us time to catch up on the details of what had just happened. As we were on our second day in Marrakech and scouting the new city, we ended up sitting at a Starbucks having anxiety attacks. Hurricane María was combing through Puerto Rico and we had no clue what would become of the house I grew up in. Since we were not expecting the storm before the vacation, the house was left with no protection. We felt a cold shower of fear drape all around us.

The next few days were one painful assault after the other. As it turns out, María completely devastated my island. We find ourselves in a state of emergency as a declared disaster zone, and we are now at the mercy of the rest of the world to send in supplies and donations to help us out. Our beautiful trees and palm trees have been stripped of their leaves or torn out of their resting places, light posts have also fallen and caused much damage. I fear for our local green parrots, highlight of my mornings and afternoons, 90 of which were rescued.

We are estimated to be left without power or water for 6-7 months. 

Life after a hurricane is no easy feat. I worry about everybody I've ever known, for their safety from desperate burglars forcing their needs to be prioritized at gunpoint. Hospitals have been robbed of their gasoline. Pitbull enlists his personal asset to fly cancer patients out of the country while the President stumbles over his ability to aid the American citizens in dire need. Food spoils and people face the risk of starvation. What a nightmare. My people are in need. Everyone faces mortal peril. My heart weeps for my motherland.



I ran across this poem recently, which accurately describes how those of us closely linked to the island feel. Please give this some time if you are able.

LACERACIONES EN EL ALMA

Aunque no lo parezca,
a cientos de millas de distancia,
grito en silencio
y trato de aguantar mis costillas
mientras siento que mi corazón colapsa
y mis lágrimas se desbordan.
El "shock" pasó.
La tragedia sigue real, y palpable.
La emergencia sigue real, y tangible.
Pero Pinocho Roselló, como buen títere,
alarga su nariz
con cada número que pronuncia.

¿Cómo he de no fustrarme,
de no indignarme,
de no sentir rabia
al ver a dos gobiernos muy interesados
en lavarse sus caras mutuamente,
pero no lo suficiente en atender
los verdaderos estragos de una tormenta?
¿Cómo he de ignorar el dolor
amplificado por 135
que mi ausencia en diáspora
cavó en mis entrañas
clamando por mi familia de sangre y volición?

Sé callar y enfocarme.
Ser fuerte y solidarix,
responsable y cuidadosx
cuando otrxs sucumben al pánico.
Pero cada publicidad política
duele como un bofetón en la cara.
Cada familia sin hogar y trabajo como
fisuras en los huesos.
Cada muerte y exilio como pedazos de piel
con necrosis o quirúrgicamente removidos.

La tormenta vive en mí
como un genio rabioso
que bate mis entrañas,
desborda mis cauces
y arrasa todo verdor que recuerdo.

Mi querida Río Piedras, ultrajada;
cotorras decimadas,
comunidades sin agua,
el Alma Mater como una Transilvania tropical
mis sauces arrancados de raíz;
aunque un creciente murmullo solidario
la está reviviendo,
mi corazón ha quedado como
los cristales de la facultad de Derecho.

Mi fundamental Isabela,
hecha refugio y oasis.

Santa María que nos trajo tanto mal
ya no se le puede cantar esa plena.
Sabemos que ha quedado de Puerto Rico
cuando llegó el temporal.
Es recuperarse de la paliza atmosférica
el verdadero reto.

Y no duden por un segundo de lo mucho
que creo en ustedes.
Sencillamente les escribo
ahora que la recuperación empezó a despegar
por que el dolor silente
se estaba convirtiendo en un Kraken
que ya no debo mantener bajo mis olas.

Semper fides, fidelis, solidarium,
EMV


Thank you to all those of you extending your warmth, expressing your concern and reaching out to help directly. I can't begin to express how much it means to me!
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