La Republica

The first language I was spoke was

Potbellied groans drafted beneath Mami’s
freckled English — broken like

cracked dirt beneath which
she stumbled.

I swallowed sugar cane and Bible verses
to make speech for an island

that did not birth me:

      Instead, I birthed it.

Shoddy limestone terraces and sputtering
pots of my ancestors’ echos:

their cants a rhythm only
my mouth can sway to.

Cacao-colored hips denoting the
closed embrace of bachata* —

8-count beats of swollen hearts and
       mortar grinding against plantain.

Callouses corrugated among ringlets
of las mariposas*,

blackened by Taino hums.
        La republica, la republica

Let blackness scale into my lungs
and ebb into the cadence of

slaves’ chains.
Let us wear thick wreaths

and climb the brow of
white bone.

We weld our flesh together —
lips no longer tapered.

Mi gente, mi gente*,
let our breaths entwine.


*A style of dance originating from the Dominican Republic.
*“My people, my people.”
* Translates to “the butterflies.” Refers to the revolutionary Dominican sisters, the Mirabal sisters.


BRITTANY ADAMES is a seventeen-year-old Dominican-American writer from eastern Pennsylvania. She has been regionally and nationally recognized by the Scholastic Writing Awards and has studied fiction and poetry at Susquehanna University's Advanced Writers Workshop and Kenyon College's Young Writers Workshop. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as CALAMITY Magazine and the Not My President anthology by Thoughtcrime Press among others.