A life after you

My name is Jillian Everly and I am a master’s student in the Anthropology department at Idaho State University. My thesis is focused on the well-being of women in Chilean fisheries: both small and large scale. With globalization, not only have political and economic changes occurred but impacts on a culture, society, and environment dependent on the sea for livelihoods has also changed and differentially impacted that of women, their roles, and their needs in survival as they prioritize that of their families. Thank you for reading. 

A life after you

The life of you
Was far from removed
A sinister mock
A gold-plated Mamita
Taken through different talks
Of scripted screen plays
But I already knew how the story was to end
Yet I’ll continue to pretend
That your face will wake
With a mouth full of milk
The walk down to the Caleta
Will not be cut short
But dragged on
As the cots begin to drape
Atop the floorboards
The neat
Will awaken after you
Dead eyed
Jaded, laying for the quiet of the morning​​​​​​​
Vacas will stumble their grounds
Feed between their feet like any normal day
And you will be there to observe their haste
And I, to observe you
But instead
You said​​​​​​​
Mamita don’t cry for me when I’m gone
You laughed and side smiled
Took your eyes to their crest filled peaks
As the rampant went dry
The shifting started to regulate
One bout
Maybe two
Knowing you’ve
Been stripped out
For the final count
Singled out like the one blade of grass
That greets
The first ray of sunlight
In the first hours of morning
But instead of frowning at the mouth
The inconsistent clues too loud
That kept being placed on your tilted spring head
You rang out in uncontrolled rapture
Looked at me as if I was
Scripted from the very last baptized chapter 
In which you began
Each day
Robe open, taken to the winds
As you walked
Purposeful yet not plenty
Saturated yet lacking the wet end heavy
I held you in my arms
Gold-plated beast of a bosom
And rocked your wilted stars
Waiting for them to take hold
But they never did
Your tears ceased to dry
Because they hindered to come
And your sister looked at me and said
I want nothing more to love
Because all I’ve ever wanted
I will certainly not see the face of again
And I cried just then
Despite you telling me not to
I wailed right then
Despite your persistence at remaining
Un-blackened by all tempted weaknesses
I pushed my bold body forward and down
Heavier than
The dark sunken grave in which you
Your little deceived head in
And that’s when
I bawled, bawled, bawled
Because you never did
Me, your gold-plated Mamita
Couldn’t quite hold it in
Rocking you in my arms
Waiting for the day you’d cry out in
But it never came
Only me
And my slain
Rusted armor
A wreckage,
To this I still pray

“A life after you” was written in the voice of my interviewee, a small-scale artisanal seafood harvester and a mother who lost her daughter to cancer.  I found after trust was developed between me and the interviewee, they opened up to me about emotionally provoking topics that writing poetry allowed me to process.​​​​​​​

Uno puede sobrevivir o uno puede morir

Sugar packets line
Your coffee
And your granddaughter
Gives me the biggest toothy smile
Gangly from growth 
I sink with it
Drop into your unromanticized
Version of the past
You had to go behind your husband’s back
To provide for your family
The violence, the denigration, the machista
Made it less his
And all yours
Your granddaughter: “What’s machista?”
You explain with the knowledge of it all
And she: “I still don’t get it…I’m bored.”
And you: “You’re too young to understand.”
“Quiet child”
Or you’ll be exposed to the
Bloody truths of a past
In which hunger struck me
“There is no boredom here”
This is life and death​​​​​​​
Uno puede sobrevivir o uno puede morir
A question of do or die
And I…
Chose the former 

“Uno puede sobrevivir o uno puede morir” was written about a conversation with one of my interviewees (a fisherwomen) and her 8-year-old granddaughter. We were discussing topics of machismo and how her husband wouldn’t let her work outside of the house even though their children were starving. Her granddaughter wanted to leave because she was bored, and her grandmother abruptly told her: “There is no boredom here.” ​​​​​​​

Soy así

I have patience in the
Screaming verbiage
The foxhole
The makeshift plates
Because everyone
Packs up and leaves eventually
The children of artisanal harvesters
The farmers
Never your mothers
But your kids
And all their daughters
The artists
Still hoping for a moonlit
They’re starving
The deceivers
Continue peeping on the distressed
They’re held down
With nothing left
We have resources to improve it
But no tourists come here
To prove it
I help them all the same
I enjoy little in life
Than to relieve my people’s pain
A claim
I pin to the oldest
Wisdom driven, coldest
Sea stained, loneliest
I’m not always happy
But I’m holy
The lowly golden
Token taken from the
The río’s contamination
Brings no barren
That isn’t already brought
From the brazen
I’m hopped up on mate
In the morning
I’m not always happy
Sometimes I am performing 
But I remain here 
For a restoring 
In all my land’s 
I am forging 

“Soy así” was written from the perspective of a sindicato [fishing union] leader. When I asked her what she enjoyed most about life, she said hardly anything except helping her vulnerable community in the precarious environment and contaminated sea they so depend on for their livelihoods.

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