Prayer in Taino War Paint By Juniper Cruz

Prayer in Taino War Paint

A sestina

Tainos are pomegranates.
Brown in rotting,
they call me inverted apple.
A bowl of bija for my skin
Woman says it restores all of the red
fucked out of this island.

This island
once faced the sky like a pomegranate
cut in half, clusters of red.
If it weren’t for your rotting,
she said, if it weren’t for your skin,
your red parts wouldn’t be an apple.

You bruise like an apple,
Too. You are not like the body of this island.
The wet muscle. There are parts of your skin
bija cannot restore. The parts that aren’t pomegranates
and all its arteries. The brown parts. The rotting
that is so brown it’s black. She paints my body red.

The red
comes to my skin like an open wound. Apple
of Eden. I am rotting
golden in the throat of this island,
golden in the husk of the pomegranate
golden in the bruised skin.

Upon this island of unbruised skin,
the white man wishes to hang us red.
God, they want to hang me on a pomegranate
tree and gut me like an apple.
Make me forbidden on my own island
and all of its rotting.

Here, branches hold onto forgotten fruit. Dear rotting
God, forgive me for coming to you in this dyed skin,
But I have returned my limbs to this island.
Asked the woman with bija to dyed them red.
God of gospel, I ask you to swallow me like a golden apple,
or strange hanging pomegranate.

So that then, maybe you will ripen: the pomegranates, the rotting
body of apples caught in a white country’s teeth, and the peeling skin
of the red, the slow beating muscle of this forgotten island.

By Juniper Cruz


Juniper Cruz is a Queer Afro-Latinx Muslim poet from Hartford, Connecticut. They are currently an undergraduate student at Kenyon College. Their work has been published in The Atlantic, Lambda Literary, and Puerto Del Sol.

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