Listen:

I find myself on my feet with fifteen leaves.

Everything carries its own light on the walls.

I woke up being hit. The afternoon,
suffocating as the death of cows. My heart
was opened between cemeteries of moon.

The parasites. The drizzle. The mud crowning
the undergrowth with immense sadness.

I knew death when I dressed
in my uniform.

I found the index of solitude: my country in its legal
jargon, its piety, its fiction—

Yes. It loves me, really.

I give my blood as the blood of all fish.

*

Me encuentro de pie con quince hojas.

Brilla todo en los muros.

Desperté al ser golpeado. La tarde,
asfixiante como la muerte de vacas. Mi corazón
lo abrían entre cementerios de luna.

Los parásitos. La llovizna. El lodo coronando
la maleza con mustios grandes.

Supe de la muerte al vestir
de uniforme.

Encontré el índice de soledad: mi país en su jerga
legal, su piedad, su ficción—

Sí. Me quiere, de verdad.

Doy mi sangre como la sangre de todos los peces.

Hibiscus, November 1973. Photo: U.S. National Archives.

Ricardo Alberto Maldonado

Ricardo Alberto Maldonado was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He is the translator of Dinapiera Di Donato’s Collateral (National Poetry Series/Akashic Books) and the recipient of poetry fellowships from Queer/Arts/Mentorship and the New York Foundation for the Arts. This poem is part of “Puerto Rico En Mi Corazón,” a broadside project of contemporary Puerto Rican poets, out from Anomalous Press, supporting Taller Salud and relief efforts in Puerto Rico.