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Haydil Henriquez

the mirage of being

on the day you begin to die                   your throat will feel it first.
a cotton flower unwinds, upwards.
withers backbone, quickens past your gullet
stations itself on an iris. how quickly cotton flower becomes calla lily.
calla lily, neither a calla nor a lily.
both names foreign to             its carcass
classified Zantedeschia genus,
named after an Italian botanist
whose death was not recorded.               record this. we fade.

our lives. fleeing monarchs by the stone hedge.
not much of us remains.
1.8 people sink in exhale                        now. while we remain.
one whole & fourth fifths of a person. now. now.
the way Washington is washed into us. now.
how many of us will just fade?
murdered in our own apartments. shot down. Fred Hampton.
our existence is erase-able. transvers-able. defaced by linguistic aesthetic standards.
named after our masters, we were better off before you found us,
hung to dry, our worn names, slowly fade, in. then out of style.
reincarnates. is re-extinct. is re-extinct. is.

we did not know we could die twice. they should have warned
some will not remain.
primero se llevan tu alma, y despues la memoria de tu existir.
we’ve been living in worlds dictated by thud thuds,
yet we greed as if dough, the mighty green could buy us palpitations.

on the day you begin to die,                your muscle the size of your fist
will feel it second.
your last inhale will stream down your lung pipes, enter your fatigued emblem one last,
lose itself in decaying temples. you often forgot to breathe. the crevasses
on your dilapidated walls hold stories, graffiti-ed your existence unto bulwarks.
notice our bodies seldom come in singles,
explains why we have alter egos, confuse fucking with loving,
tattoo hearts instead of uteri. must be the reason birthing feels painfully
whole. some.

on your wedding day,                             you toss the calla lily ornaments
wish for cotton flowers to properly wipe your name off your skin. how much of us
is permanently distorted?

on the day you begin to die,                  your name will feel it last
the ribs for our lungs rupture as your organ thrusts.
your name inhaled. pumped. swooped. beat. butchered. tokenized.
no one seems to get it right. if your tongue can’t handle death, train it,
i’ve been training mine.

on the day you begin to die you will not see a calla lily
a cotton flower will breed in your still organ
remember some of our breaths are distorted. not all
of us are permanent.
not all of us is permanent. not all
of us is.

Haydil Henriquez is an arts educator, cultural worker and Bronx-bred poet. Daughter of diligent Dominican parents, a taxi driver and a waitress with many dreams, she was humbly raised to value her Caribbean culture, elevating her black roots. Along with her three sisters, every summer she would return to her parent’s home desperately searching for her own space in the verdant island—a duality she reflects on in her poetry. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology & Education from Swarthmore College (2014), and has worked with communities across the diaspora facilitating oral storytelling workshops. An ICA fellow alumna of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Haydil currently serves her Bronx community as the Co-Director of the DreamYard Art Center.


See full list of 2018 Emerging Poets Fellows