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In Another Life

— Janel Pineda

The war never happened but somehow you and I still exist. Like obsidian,
we know only the memory of lava and not the explosion that created

us. Forget the gunned-down church, the burning flesh, the cabbage soup.
There is no bus. There is no border. There is no blood. There are

only sweet corn fields and mango skins. The turquoise house and clotheslines.
A heaping plate of pasteles and curtido waiting to be disappeared into our bellies.

In this life, our people are not things of silences but whole worlds bursting
into breath. Everywhere, there are children. Playing freely, clothed and clean.

Mozote does not mean massacre and flowers bloom in every place shoes are
left behind. My name still means truth, this time in a language my mouth recognizes,

in a language I know how to speak. My grandmother is still a storyteller although I am
not a poet. In this life, I do not have to be. This poem somehow still exists. It is told

in my mother’s voice and she makes hurt dissolve like honey in hot water, manzanilla
warming the throat. You and I do not find each other on another continent, grasping

at each other’s necks in search of home. We meet in a mercado, my arms overflowing
with mamey and anonas, and together we wash them in riverwater. We watch sunset fall over

a land we call our own and do not fear its taking. I bite into the fruit, mouth sucking
seed from substance, pulling its veins from between my teeth. Our laughter echoes

from inside the cave, one we are free to step outside of. We do not have to hide here.
We do not have to hide anywhere. A torogoz flies past my face and I do not fear its flapping.


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