Poem – WATER FOR PUERTO RICO (By Elaine Nadal)

WATER FOR PUERTO RICO (A Reaction to Puerto Rico’s Struggles)


Dad always said, “No te ahogues en un vaso de agua.”

“It means don’t drown in a glass of water,”

I’d explain to my non-Spanish-speaking friends,

wanting to share the magic

because, for some reason,

when he recited such words,

I was able to hold my breath longer underwater,

the jellyfish stings didn’t hurt so much,

the seaweed’s grip seemed looser.

I’d emerge having chewed the algae,

singing the melody of the seashells,

a song no one else had heard before.

My arms would extend farther.

I’d catch and hold the waters,

mastering the art of swimming–

because there’s nothing worse than drowning–

until the glass shattered into pieces

that formed a fractured sun,

leaving behind not a single drop

to satiate my thirst.


Author Bio: Elaine Nadal

Being a Latina is fire and wind,
a hummingbird in the skies
flying backwards and upside down.
It’s a hot lava stone pressed upon one’s back,
containing words carved by tongue.
A teaching, a story, a song–
improvised and from memory,
taken from ruins to create new horizons.
(Excerpt from Elaine Nadal’s poem “Pride”)