Letters for my brothers

Is there a bridge between our voicesSmoke above our heads A sky between our siblinghood?

Has time made us mountains Leaving the valley of mama’s womb Piling up the dust silently?

Am I a home for a familiar silence? The traumas called ghost The ones I’ve buried under fields of tongue

Am I the only one?

A spiny map of epidermis Crossing the palmed weathered rivers Tracing the North Star with guts

I am of their bodies

Ashen stars connected by smoke The sunken ship of cheekbones Face full of rain

A pillaged womb Nursed with blood & shackled breasts

We were only meant to survive

To take the dirt & harvest food To drain blood & drink rosary To grow of this earth what is not ours —or our children’s

This is how my mothers learned to be loved With locked elbows anchoring their bodies As they are laid out to dry

And our fathers watched, learned to love us By leaving our laboring screams that hollowed them And pierced through the woods

“Letters for my brother” was originally published in the anthology, abuelita’ voice & the bird in my belly (2013)

Freewrite: “Letters for my brothers” is a poem I wrote to reconcile the relationship between me & my brother—the one that is biologically mine & the ones that share the history of this skin, hair, & blood.

Our tongues have been displaced & we use the language of hate to re-appropriate what was never ours to begin with. This hate isn’t mine & neither is the rape of our bodies, nor our culture. This is not the end of our narrative. There was a time before exiled Europeans came to the Americas to capitalize off our labor & womb.

We painted our bodies, ritualized our harvest, and loved freely under the moon. We use to call all our wo/men mother & father. There was no need to sexualize or own our children. We were skilled craftsmen, eating off the land, & living organically.

“Letters for my brothers” is a calling out from the salt water that encircles my eyes, my empty bed, and heart. It is saying, I understand you. Stay. Don’t leave me here alone. Let’s face the wounds. Don’t let this hopelessness that seeps in our slouched backs keep separating us & sinking us from who we really are.