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Diannely Antigua

Diannely Antigua

Diannely Antigua is a Dominican American poet and educator, born and raised in Massachusetts. Her debut collection Ugly Music (YesYes Books, 2019) was the winner of the Pamet River Prize and a 2020 Whiting Award. She received her MFA from NYU and is the recipient of fellowships from CantoMundo, Community of Writers, and the Fine Arts Work Center Summer Program.

Diary Entry #13: Being Sick Is a Romantic Idea

It was the summer of pain, the summer
of becoming the rhythm
of spasms down my cervical spine,
calling it a reunion of ache. I remember
the unbuttoned shirt felt like a grave,
and the grave like practicing the Bible
in a basement, or like being Achilles
in reverse. I was strong
from the ankles down, from my shallow
baptism in the Atlantic. As a child,
I'd heard a story about an angel so beautiful
she was evicted from heaven by the others,
made to live out her days trapped in flesh, as she lay
confined to a hospital bed. I'd like to pretend
God called on the phone every day—
a worried Father—or perhaps
disguised as a nurse, brought her water  
and pills. To say I'm not afraid of dying
is to admit I want to be stared at
like something to lose. I thought I could
leave with the dignity any breaking woman
would want. I haven't been sleeping,
or walking, or kissing the people that I love.
Sometimes my lips will graze an ear,
a freshly shaved neck.

Diary Entry #29: Polarization

I wonder if I will spend the winter
putting on my grandmothered grief.
I'm becoming a church, a funeral,
an aquarium with no men. There is
a mermaid in my dream of the brothers—
I love them both—and the mermaid
shows me the underwater apple trees, the fruit
ripe to be picked. I'm no angel
but I need to voyage the land
between crisis and hope, land
like doom understood. I am
a warrior of not letting go,
and the brothers need to drown.
If I could threaten the sea
with my drawer of small things. If
I could dangle language like an heirloom,
like bloodied lace on a body without name.
Would the sea take them, beautiful
brothers of before and after. The condoms
still sleep on the streets
where I threw them like petals. Oh
wedding, oh bomb—I dance
on the table like a widow, bread
and butter in my toes.

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