bitter

August 22, 2009

Las Salinas, Bani Dominican RepublicPhoto: www.lagacetafea.blogger.combracero2

these tracks are old
they lead nowhere.
this is the land of salt mines
and sand dunes.

heat burning skin.
salt stinging wounds.
over one million
Haitians
migrate
to this
third world.

third world country
with first world mentality
put these men to labor
extracting salt
from pool bottoms.

salt in wagons
pulled and pushed
on tired tracks
eroding
corroding

Bani
Las Salinas
Dominican Republic
known as the land
of poets and liberators.

this is one sad poem
and liberation,
is only reserved
for non-Haitians
“para todo aquel
que no sea negro.”

travel 400 kilometers east
along the southern coast

on different tracks
railroad tracks
pulling thousands
of sugar cane sticks

loaded by braceros
sugar cane cutters
back breaking
soul aching.

nine to twelve hours,
machetes swinging.
young sons alongside
exhausted
with no time to play,
must say
“there is nothing
sweet
about this sugar cane
stick dad.”

La Romana
Dominican Republic
the name
comes from a balance
used to weigh
merchandise for export.

but there is no balance
in inequality.

and what this third world exports is

not salty
not sweet
just bitter.

~sarahi yajaira, 2009

i grow within

August 16, 2009

i’ve been here
42 days.
at first,
i called it home
this, my birth place
this air, my first breath
this sun, my blanket
this moon, my lullaby
this
this
this
memory:

remembering
recalling
trees climbed
knees scraped
first day of school
papi’s hugs
raggedy mun~ecas
that i ignored

i relive
these scents
these sounds
these sights

that moment

i was pulled
my seed
barely sprouting roots
cut
reimplanted
in a new place
i would learn to call home
that, my growth place
that air, my second wind
that sun, my comforter
that moon, my song
that
that
that
memory:

remembering
recalling
monkey bars climbed
bruised knees
school daze
mami’s anger
dolls that i would keep
naked

i relive
those scents
those sounds
those sights

that moment

i was told
“this is not your home.
this fertile soil cannot feed you.”

that seed
trying to grow roots
under the concrete floors
of the big city.

there
amidst droughts
cold winter days
waiting for spring
a bud sprouts
cracks
through the spaces
of the concrete
blooms
the impossible

a caribbean city flower

displaced
misplaced
replaced

we learn, whether by nature or nurture
to revive and survive.

we do not assimilate,
instead we create
familiarity
in the spaces where we stand.
the sounds, the scents, the sights
mimic
the places we were pulled from.
we make our own ecosystem,
as our grandmothers plant avocado seeds
into pots that will never bear fruit
and our mothers import seasonings
that loose their taste in transition
(still, the essence of their flavor
lives on our tongues).

we were created to survive.

and while neither place may be home
i can live and grow in both places.
i am mobile.
i sit at the center of my heart
and rest in my soul.

i’ve learned that my veins are my roots…
i grow within.

this and that sun are the same.
this and that moon, keep the name.

~sarahi yajaira, 2009.

god’s intentions

August 16, 2009

yesterday
driving
my eyes fixed
on the beauty
of the landscape
that is this
Dominican Republic

i saw you
in your school uniform
your little hand
extended
on the side of the road
asking for a ride

hitchhiking
is the only way to get
to school for you
and thousands alike.

‘cause papi walks six miles
to work
a twelve hour shift
in the sugar cane fields.
and mami can’t leave
your little brothers
under that tin roof home
alone
to walk you
four miles
to school
and back
under this hot
caribbean sun
that burns and turns
hope into ashes.

stop.
your school
on the left
is falling
and failing.

your abc’s
become POW’s.
prisoners of a war
you didn’t wage,
prisoners to a system
that keeps you caged.

you sit in the car
i ask “what’s your name?”
“Rosaury,” you smile
(that beautiful smile).
you’re just ten-years-old
and you tell us you’re
in first grade.
i do the math
quickly
i realize that you’re behind.
logic tells me
it has nothing to do with your ability to learn,
but in this government’s unwillingness to provide
the necessary resources.
science tells me nature and nurture have abused you,
while geography displaces your dreams.
history will repeat itself in the womb of your offspring
and religion will make you question God’s intentions.

this government
in disorder
robs your future
then punishes you
for the crime it commits against you.

this landscape
can not hold beauty
if it’s just a backdrop
for what really lies behind.

~Sarahi Yajaira, 2009