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can an island have ptsd?
maybe then, every earthquake
is just the land remembering
its tragedies
the hurricanes are the aftermath
of failed coping mechanisms
these harsh winds
are hyperventilations
and the earth is trying
to rid itself of the toxins
of past memories
with a tornado or two

she speaks to me   between the screaming   tells me her name
and that her birth date   precedes humanity
she remembers the first people   who called her home   called her mother
traveled between her sisters   on canoes that could hold   a hundred of her children
            asks me about my ancestors

and i am too embarrassed   to admit that i   have not left them an altar
i do not follow their traditions   and i want to call her mother
i want so badly   to call her by her name
            but she      does not
               belong to me

and upon hearing these thoughts   unspoken
she reaches a hand      for the single tear that meets   her palm
places it on a mango tree    attached to her back   and produces fruit

‘you were brought to me   in slavery
taken from me   by capital   but you will always
always   be a child   of mine’

and i weep
in the arms
of the mother
i once abandoned
for she
does not belong
to me
but i
will always
belong to

Rachelle Saint Louis is a Haitian-American writer, born and raised in South Florida. She received a 2018 Silver Medal in the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition for her poem “Red Blood Cell.” Her poetry has been published and/or is forthcoming in Rigorous Magazine, The Anti-Languorous Project, and Super Dope & Extra Lit. She has an MA in English Literature from Florida Atlantic University and you can find her nerding out over her latest reads @raethereviewer on Instagram and TikTok.
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4 Dec 2023

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