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The indigenous people of Puerto Rico—the Tainos—tell a folktale about a village of womxn that wander the rainforests of El Yunque.

Long ago, they were kidnapped by the chief of a warring village, taken to a remote part of the rainforest, and left to die.

Instead, they survived, formed a community of warrior womxn, and learned to thrive on the land they called Matinino.


There is a legend about the women who took all the punishment: the women of Matinino. They are the fallen mothers and daughters left to rot. The hurricane-beaten weeping women drowned in salt. The men came home in a drunken rage and killed them all. Now they live in a cave hidden deep in the rainforest.

Guanina was walking home under the stars. On her last night, a man used his hands to choke the river out of her. Before she knew it, she was falling out of the sky like a waterfall and through a canopy of thick, wet leaves. Fell hard into the soil. She spent centuries cradled in mistthe other women didn’t rush to wake her.

“There is time,” they said, and while she slept, they dropped handfuls of tiny orange flowers on her copper skin. Her silhouette sloped like a mountain range. Bright moss grew between her fingers and toes.

She is awake now, and she weaves baskets out of her long, black hair in Matinino. Sometimes the baskets are so thick and heavy with fruit that the weight of them bruises her hip. She doesn’t mind.

The women of Matinino have already known death and they will never know it again; that is the goddess Atabey’s promise. The women of Matinino are safe, even in the darkness, and even under the stars.

Natalia del Pilar is a Puerto-Rican/Colombian poet and fiction writer based in Washington, DC. She's forever a fan of the moon, folktales about angry womxn, coconut flan, and Stevie Nicks. For more about her, visit or find her on Twitter as @napiqui.
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23 May 2022

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