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Geleni Fontaine


remember that i wasn’t afraid

steady with the knife on slaughter day, clean with the machete on the boar’s throat

and when the deer tumbled past the dusk porch eighty-five years ago

it was me

on my wedding day with your grandfather’s shotgun

that bought meat into the house

gloves sodden

when we were pretending we weren’t hungry


fourteen brothers and sisters, nine who lived

the girls with white abanicos and the boys squinting in the low sun

a long line of us, white shod for the camera

i was the only one with green eyes, no fool


no one believed what i could fill the world with

the power to strip out the shadows

that clung

to the hillside by the village

the edges of the cane field

the corners of rooms where the laughter was brittle

no one believed that i wasn’t afraid


trundling off the mountain

the rebels came for bread

in the deep night, skinny nephews

hunched in the brief

space between revolutions,

armies fed through farmhouse windows


while the guajiros sang

freedom songs

i was free

the hand in the heart

of the river valley

your other grandmother the healer

me the magician


i ignited the fire

in the sugar cane

i walked into it

not ashamed to move on


and be sucked into the sky


your covered face and ears

the saccharine dreams

encircling you

headaches, asthma, tumors

the fierce ways you refuse

to hold me

because your hands

are full of fear

fill them with me instead

hold me, cielo

and feel that the warmth is enough

when you let go before

burning it will be

your choice


Geleni is a fat, queer, trans and non-binary, sick and disabled, working class, first-generation Latinx surviving gentrification. They focus on healing while doing healing work with others, and they're a lifelong poet.


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