the first creation story i ever heard
by Lauren Licona
goes like this: in the beginning, there was no light.
everything that existed was a deep sleep.
a mother stirs in the long night she rears, and names it absence.
from absence, she makes two sons, one son makes man, another
makes war. man makes a sword, makes la ballista, makes gunpowder,
and kills the sons, kills the mother. it is from their blood you are given
genesis, mission, decimation, and the colonial church. after a few hundred years
you are given an american flag, no generators, a tin roof, and paper towels for a flood.
the word hurricane is taino- from hurakán, phonetic descendent of Juracan:
god of the storm, second self-willed son, who brought his chaos to the west.
summers of rage, i remember. calabash tree through kitchen window, no running water.
a drowned shore, dead fish fetid and bleaching under an exiled sun. remember, how luis
died stepping on a live wire? i read somewhere that electricity is just lightning pretending
to be permanent, maybe it is the same for the storm. maybe it is the same for the flood.
remember, remember, the cries and himnos in the dark of those forty nights?
“you are native before you are american,” is one of the few things i can recall my father telling me.
i thought this meant being tapped into a primordial grief. my displaced rage, my native guard.
inside me, an acreage and an armada of ships, of men waged from absence. what i wage
is far worse. after all, it was i who inherited the sleeplessness, the torrent, the flag, the gun
tossed into the sea. it was i who fashioned this great loneliness, who threw my arms around
each wandering son i loved and whispered “ven a casa.” come home to a place that cannot
exist again. cariño, natiao, tell me where will you run from the powers that come
to thrash and skin and bleed you?
i open for a lover against the seawall of a river named mantazas. spanish for massacre.
a few close centuries ago, hundreds of shipwrecked men lined themselves along this shore
and presented their necks. we grow along these estuaries of blood.
i salvage what i can at the edge of a mouth, at the ellipse
of a body, water racking the skin of my many griefs. i became what birthed me,
with a storm in the passage of my throat.
the story will end how it begins: a long night, a woman labored
with the first emptiness. she writhes, opening her mouth, expelling light.
Lauren Licona is a writer based in Boston, MA. She is a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, and a recipient of a 2020 Academy of American Poets Prize. Her work is featured in diode poetry journal, POETS.org, The Acentos Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. She is an undergraduate student studying Writing, Literature, & Publishing at Emerson College. She can usually be found being too active on twitter @unrealshrike.