The poet Spencer Reece received a Fulbright grant in 2012 to live for a year at Our Little Roses, the only home for abandoned and abused girls in Honduras, and to teach poetry at the adjacent Holy Family Bilingual School. His ultimate goal was to compile an anthology of these young, unheard voices that is necessary; in order to begin to combat the debilitating invisibility that has allowed the United States to ignore the rest of the American continent below its national border (a region whose horrifying violence can be traced directly to various failures of American policy, from supporting military governments in the 1980s to the current "war on drugs"), in order to give a proper platform to vulnerable lives too often exploited and/or relegated to the margins, and in order to publish some of the most important poetry being written today. By the grace and generosity of many friends and supporters, I was able to fly to San Pedro Sula in November 2013 with Iva Ticic, another poet who had heard of Spencer's endeavor.
We stayed at the home, each teaching two sections of poetry throughout the day before spending evenings doing homework with the girls, listening to their stories and encouraging them to express themselves in language. It was not a difficult task. Spencer had already spent eleven months generating poems with the girls. By the time I arrived, my students were confident expressing themselves in writing. They displayed courage beyond that typically required of a poet, imposing their vulnerabilities upon the blank page with resounding force. Voice after voice lit up the classroom with love for their beautiful country, and with forgiveness for those who may have caused them pain, that I've rarely, if ever, encountered otherwise. It became clear very quickly that if one were to listen to these voices, one would hear the necessary stories of the world.
This is one such voice, and one such story. The forthcoming anthology, "Las Chavas," (or, "Homegirls"), will be accompanied by a documentary film of the same name. I'm honored to present Aylin's work, in the hopes that many more yet unheard voices follow her into our global and poetic consciousness. Poetry must be what the world really is; these poems are the world in which we live. Aylin has not only done the work of interrogating her own life, she has done us the great gift of interrogating ours, too.
Every week, every day, every hour, every minute and every second that I pass without my family it feels like a knife trying to get inside a rock. I am the knife and the rock is my life. So this is me, Aylin, and this is my difficult life without my family. Some people think that living in a home for girls like Our Little Roses is a big blessing. Yes, I say to those people, it is a great blessing but at the same time it is a curse. Every night I start thinking and talking to God in my prayers: "Why, God, why did my family leave me alone?" There is no answer. A lot of people see me with my sisters and my aunt, who is not really my aunt, and they think we are a happy group, but really all of us think the same thing that no one ever says: One day, will our mother come to visit us? It is ugly to know that everyone in this school is celebrating Mother's Day. In this day, I feel ashamed to be me. But, God, listen to this: I am counting the time like people count the stars and I will keep counting until my mother comes. My sisters are graduating and soon I will go to college too. When I graduate from college and when I am finally somebody in this world, God, I will go straight to Mexico where my mother lives and I will stare at her like I stare at the stars and with a voice that cracks like thunder I will say: I FORGIVE YOU! But for now, God, I am here, in Our Little Roses, counting.