To The Women Who Feel It In Their Bones



Excerpt from a speech given by Don Pedro Albizu Campos, Ponce, Puerto Rico, October 12, 1933:

A people’s sense of unity has to come from women … the woman nurtures the unity of a race, the unity of a civilization, the unity of a people … Puerto Rico will be free, Puerto Rico will be sovereign and independent when the Puerto Rican woman feels free, sovereign and independent. And for the Puerto Rican woman to achieve this unity, she has to feel it in her bones…


Don Albizu dijo que Puerto Rico will rise in the hands of women
Bemba colora, bomba straddling drum, call and response women
Después de llorar, hay que cantar women
Orando en voz alta, healing circle cypher leading women
“We all know God is a woman” type women
“Yo uso falda pero tengo los pantalones bien puestos” women
Black and white Puerto Rican flag-waving women
Nasty T-shirt wearing, cagandose en la madre del presidente women
Maestras teaching by candlelight women iluminando el pensamiento women
greeting students with a smile despite a missing paycheck women

Suicide prevention hotline women, pulling her people off the edge,
off the bottle, off the noose, off the delusion of flying off that building,
holding them all in the arms of her voice, those women
Soup kitchen stove sweating women
“Que Dios bendiga a Puerto Rico” prayed over pots of rice,
conjuring cocinera women
First responder, temporary housing, blue-tarp-tying,
cagandose en la madre de FEMA, rooftop women

Insurgent pajonúa women, brillantes pensadoras moderna women
Independentistas, blogueras, Afro-caribeñas who spell Negra with a capital N
and reserve their two middle fingers for Rosselló type women
Side hustle, side eye, sidewalk, en la esquina, la bandolera del barrio fino women
“Vendo comida, tengo salón en mi sala y te hago las uñas” women
Bodeguera chanting “Yo levanto a Puerto Rico vendiendo vaso en colores”
that type of woman

Midwives, dueñas del empuja y respira que ahí viene nueva vida—that woman
Positioning bodies into portals to the hum of hurricanes,
soul-catching in dark bedrooms, threshold crossing over liminal type women
Care-taking home attendant, hospice, end of life,
Oya’s daughters kind of women,
“We know the real death toll” women, witnessing last rites, last breaths,
working to the last hour, don’t have time for self-care women
“No hay tiempo que perder we must save ourselves” women
Reverse migration Nuyorican del Bronx a San Juan wise women
Packing suitcases full of seeds to replant the island women

Las manos en la masa y en el lodo women
The “Vamos pal’ monte porque esto aquí se llama Borinquen” women
Free Oscar López Rivera women, care-package volunteer women
The “We sending more than just crackers and a juice box” women
“Ahora es tiempo de renacer” women
“Somos la verdadera luz del mundo” women

Somos mothers, madrinas, sisters y abuela women
doctors, lawyers, amas de casa, curandera women
We are poetas, expertas in dying, resurrecting, rebuilding
and la cosecha women

Call us Preciosas, Call us Las Perlas del Caribe
Call us the “We know Puerto Rico se levanta” women
’cause we feel it in our bones


Peggy Robles-Alvarado is a tenured New York City educator with graduate degrees in elementary and bilingual education. In 2018 she received an MFA in performance and performance studies from Pratt Institute. She is a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee; a CantoMundo, Academy for Teachers, and Home School Fellow; a two-time International Latino Book Award winner; and author of Conversations with My Skin and Homage to the Warrior Women. Through RoblesWrites Productions, she edited the following anthologies: The Abuela Stories Project in 2016 and Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement and The Muse in 2017. For more information, visit


[Purchase Issue 16 here.]

To The Women Who Feel It In Their Bones

Related Posts

Image of a statue of a woman wearing a dress in white against a beige background, cover of Ama Codjoe's poetry collection.

September 2022 Poetry Feature: Ama Codjoe—from BLUEST NUDE

When my mother was pregnant, she drove / every night to the Gulf of Mexico. / Leaving her keys and a towel on the shore, / she waded into the surf. Floating / naked, on her back, turquoise waves / hemming her ears, she allowed / the water to do the carrying.

view of valley from mountain

August 2022 Poetry Feature: Nathan McClain—from PREVIOUSLY OWNED

Had I not chosen to live there— / among the oaks and birches, / trees I’d only ever seen in poems / until then…spruce, pine, / among the jack-in-the-pulpit / (though I much preferred “lady slipper”) / the tiger lily, milkweed, the chickadee / and blue jay, even the pesky squirrel

Park Bench

Translation: Poems by Juan de Dios García

He speaks to us of Finnish lakes, of a dialect populated by birds and fruit, of high wooded hills, perpetual snow, a petroleum sky. “In the north they’re raised on melancholy,” he says, “and their dead weigh more than those from here.” He speaks of a Greek father and a war.