Maria hit Puerto Rico as a category 5, with maximum sustained winds of 270 km/h
September 20th, 2017 a text wakes me. "We are alive." That’s all. No details to calm nerves as they jump to wrong conclusions. There isn’t time for red or purple hearts. No smiley faces. No time for a prayer. Just a lonely text. 3 words. And a hope that Papi isn’t lying.
I close WhatsApp and open my contacts. I dial. It rings. I await. And wait. AnD WaiT-AND WAIT. Bile rises from stomach to heart. I can’t swallow the images of muddy waters taking over my tiny island. Facebook videos with devastating HD quality. #hurricanemaria As waves rush over broken piles of homes.
Putting my iPhone down I close my eyes and pray. I make promises to every deity that crosses my mind. Pitted god against god. That whoever won would have my love and loyalty. I would fall at the feet of Krishna as he crushes Zeus. Please, make my family safe.
I take a last look at my Father’s photo. Hands shake as I hang up mid ring. I needed to hear him. His voice - sinking through my psyche - a dependency since birth. And I, like a cocaine fueled junkie, needed to sustain my addiction to his words. An LSD hallucination that even Maria couldn’t erase. #prayforpuertorico
4 and half hours later my phone rings. "We are alive, we have meat, and a gas stove." My Father’s braying laugh is the sweetest, most annoying sound I’d ever wanted to hear. Hands finally unclench. Mouth dry, asking, "Do you need anything?"
6 days have passed. No electricity and fuel on low. #staystrongpuertorico I fold socks - water bottles - Spam cans and Vienna sausages. Tears pass the bridge of my nose. Two more bags of Duracell D batteries in a USPS box. Cause if it fits. It’ll ship. My love too big to send. And I pray.
At 25 days Papi shares a video of downed palm trees dipped into a serpentine pool - a crooked tropical drink - unwanted and undrinkable. #boricuahastalamuerte and it might just be, if there aren’t any prayers left.
After 96 days all I see on my Twitter feed: #prayforvegas, #vegasshooter, #prayformandalaybay, #prayforcalifornia #californiawildfire, #skirballfire. But there are no for prayers left No more #prayforPR
Sáshily Kling has a fascination with photography, storytelling, and art. "History of the Hurricane" is an excerpt from her first poetry chapbook where she explores her Puerto Rican history and realizes t hat we are all connected through our family stories and struggles. Throughout this journey Sáshily has come to understands that she has been writing this book all along.
Lori Moseman Anderson
life jacket made only of sleeves torn from cloaks
History of the Hurricane
Rachel J. Bennett
Castle bakes casseroles for the masses & ties
The Weight of Secrets
and only through walking do you arrive.