The danger of sighing while looking up

PHOTO CREDIT: slimmer_jimmer, double neckcreaker ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

PHOTO CREDIT: slimmer_jimmer, double neckcreaker (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By Celeste Ramos

Storms

are born of sighs and

old curses

launched from the heel of a flat hand

pressed to a chin, chalky white

or serpent red

 

blowing spiteful powders

 

I hope whoever’s broken heart

somewhere around the Lesser Antilles

was healed

eventually

‘cuz I can see

whoever it was

standing where a strong drink and wind could find them

 

Oh…

mind your sighs

they become storms

 

By the time those terrible storms reach us in England

they’re the soggy wet blankets over our long longed-for weekends

and it’s easy to forget how the rain is really tears

and that the breeze that can now barely lift a leaf

was once a freight train only a week ago

 

Churning hatred with a name

 

The dim pane of grey we know so well was

once a mass of cloud choked with story

and when Maria got to Europe as rain I found myself listening to the sky

for news

asking what those clouds had seen

because where they’d been was the same trek of my ancestry

delivered to me 4,193 miles too late for me to do anything

but if I spin myself back

follow Maria’s skyward steps

I go back-first toward New York

past where I was born

confused angry and alone

and if I were her

my breath would still taste of

wood

blood

and bone

breaking apart over the mid-Atlantic

 

and if I spin myself back even more

I’m a fresh-raw-wound on September 19, 2017

just like I was that day in London

having a shit day in a short skyscraper watching

YouTube, stacked beneath a Microsoft Word window

watching Weather Channel live

watching video after video of kids and viejitos

red-faced gringos who couldn’t get home

wishing for bread

knowing there’s prayers to be said, knowing

there’s nothing

to be done

but watch…

 

If there’s ever been another word for feeling guilty,

it’s “watch”.

 

The next day I’m still at work

in a short skyscraper

watching YouTube stacked under Microsoft Word

my eyes as agape as my mind

a lovelorn sigh that became a

land-dwarfing scream

called Maria

engulfed little Borinquen

WHOLE

 

And I watched.

 

I couldn’t call my uncles

cousins

and see if – and see if –

 

I watched WhatsApp

I watched my half-sister’s status go

unchanged day after day

“last seen

September 18”

I watched YouTube

stacked under Microsoft Word

 

I watched news under lunchtime chitchat

I watched video after water-logged video

I watched video after tragedia video

I watched beautiful David fucking Begnaud for hours,

David Begnaud of CBS News

the honorary Puerto Rican who seemed to be the only one telling us

what the fuck was going on

 

I watched video after video to see if – in fear, if –

I recognized

somebody

 

Oh the waist-deep lines of tired faces

and water-wrinkled feet

looking for survivors

 

for two weeks,

I watched.

 

I called my mom in Brooklyn

the little old lady that I look like

who told me

how annoying it was to wait in line

at the post office

but thank God she wasn’t

waiting for water

to send water

batteries

a handwritten card of

Palante

and

Si se puede

Keep pushing forward and yesyoucan

 

I wish the broken heart somewhere

near the Lesser Antilles believed that:

that you keep going

that you believe you can

 

you don’t

sigh into the wind

on tropics so used to witchcraft

 

Mind your sighs –

they catch momentum on your discontent

 

and become storms.

Celeste Ramos is a London-based writer of fiction, poetry, short film and essays from New York City. www.celesteramoswriter.wordpress.com