I was once told
that the Sahara sand flies
over the Atlantic to lay on Puerto Rico’s shores.
Bits of home for stolen people on stolen shores.
Saharan dust coats my lungs
on late August days in
Dorado, my lungs
Golden with the weight of a thousands mile journey.
Four years old,
mother pumps breath into her brown child,
saves them from drowning in fresh air,
she counts to ten,
“savor your breath.”
I’ll push myself near drowning,
let the waves throw me on rocks that cut my back
it is an honor to share my blood with the ocean.
Dorado my father
saves me from drowning in salt water.
The moon has pulled the waves too high and my arms are heavy twigs,
anchors with no pull.
I am no longer a force outside of the waves,
I am of the waves.
I am a leaf offered from mango trees
waiting to degrade into the rocks below.
In my lungs I hold grains of gold
And with every breath I polish
loose translations for
I try to sing sweet songs,
taught from Abuela,
to momentary and timeless love
If every breath rattles
the gold beads caught
in my airways
Then I must find
a way to harmonize
If harmony could be
two notes in love
Then I must
sing the third above
catching my breath.
I take my blunts with my inhaler.
Puff puff pass albuterol to my brown friends,
green trees wrapped in brown skins.
Is it ancestry, the way we
burn through leaves picked from gold?
My mango optimo a mango tree branch
burnt on its fingertips for
reaching close enough to the sun.
I run out of breath or it runs out on me and I chase it and sometimes I am too far behind or what does it mean that my lungs are weaker so they taste the air saccharine, a sweetness that aches in my jaw, or that I know the sweetness of air because I know the bitterness of drowning in it and is it right for me to find luxury in clean air or where is the privilege in finding a corner to breath in and what does it mean to abandon my friends when they drown and trust that you’ll stop coughing just in time to start breathing or is it most beautiful to find all star-studded when your breath runs too far.
If I die of an asthma attack remember that it was not my lungs that killed me.
My lungs were brutalized by gun powder over la Higuera in ‘67.
Agent orange raining over Vieques in ‘70,
then poured into the mouth of the Hudson River.
My lungs constrict under smoke in Connecticut Shade
and bloody fumes of molten revolvers turned into typewriters.
I can’t let you think that I was killed by my body’s failure.
The lashes in my lungs are reverberations from those on my ancestors backs.
They ring through the bodies of Black and Brown children across this country.
Today my lungs ring like bells,
resonating the crisp burn of a sun shone too brightly,
of beating brown fists raised over lashes,
past star-studded smog into pure brilliance.
Each breath a gift, my
lungs hum warmly a
song of gratitude, a
tender embrace of innocuous air.
Mobey Irizarry is a genderqueer Puerto Rican poet, musician, multimedia artist, and activist from Hartford, CT. They are currently pursuing degrees in Music Composition and American Studies at Oberlin College and Conservatory. Under the moniker Xango/Suave, they released the album “Equis” (2017) on Pretty Records, and will be releasing another album in late 2018. Their work deals with queerness, asthma, and anti-colonial resistance.