If We Love It, We Must Rebuild It


By: Stephanie Ginese,  From La Respuesta Media

I visited Puerto Rico for the first time, the year before the storm. The minute I landed, I knew I was about to discover a missing piece of my soul.

My mother is from Santurce. She came to the mainland when she was just seven-years-old. My family, along with many other Puerto Rican families, made a strong community in Lorain, Ohio. The spirit of Puerto Rico was always present in our small, Midwest city. I grew up only hearing family stories about La Isla and dreaming about one day jumping off the cliffs in Quebradillas just like mi abuelo.

Finally, just a week off my 30th birthday, I was there. Feeling the sun invade every pore of my body. Standing where my ancestors had stood. I was so overcome with joy, I cried upon our first introduction. I was home. This was the most beautiful piece of land on our planet. Every inch of her was alive. I spent each moment of my days there in awe of her radiance. I felt at home in the seeming erasure of time and ease of spirit. I got lost in the vastness of the sky and the cielo blue of the ocean. I had been let into the gates of Paradise. Even in the abandonment that snaked through the city, I saw potential. I saw a sustainable Puerto Rico. Dripping with the gold they stole from us all those centuries ago. I remember the day before my departure, digging my hands into the red earth of Mama Yunque, and whispering to the sweet, wet air. “I will be home soon.”

Now, a few months since the storm, with uncertain numbers of those that were taken in the dark and those still left in the dark. When my fear of Boriken’s future tries to rise and give way to hopelessness.  I remember the immortal resilience of my people and our land.

I wrote this poem in the aftermath. As a reminder of the words whispered into the thickness of the rainforest and as a call. To nine million Boricuas. Vamos a nuestra madre!



this is a story about exodus

about a land grab

about men

with skin foreign to the sun

and pockets deeper than el carib

the men that caused the blackout

tried to evacuate la isla

their empty eyes

fixated on the prize

the real estate

the barren fields

ripe for the impregnating

with their genetically modified seed

fruitless seed

rows and rows

boxing in buildings

beige and cold

gone will be the lush colores

of the sun drenched mother

then the coquis will lose their song

the island will be silent

for the first time

these men won’t notice

or care

they don’t understand

color or music

only money and destruction

thin smiles creeping in as they try

to erase our culture

our history

we could stop them you know

if we can remember

the caciques in our trees

the gold in our veins

could rebuild our beloved

but first

we must find our way


Stephanie Ginese is a mother, activist, bruja, poet, and proud Boricua based in Cleveland, OH. You can follow her on Instagram at @labrujarita

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