Santa Barbara de San Cristóbal

by Li Yun Alvarado

Over two centuries
needed to encase a city:
walls, castles, and forts—
protection from foreign
invasion.

El Morro y San Cristóbal
tried and tested four times.
The English: Drake, Clifford,
and Abercromby. Then the Dutch.

May 12, 1898: The fifth test.
Santa Barbara, patron saint
of artillerymen, yells, ¡Fuera!

She resists long before
Old Navy-inspired
Out Navy! tee-shirts
become fashionable
on the streets of New York.

Strong against a bombing
worse than the lightning
that consumed her
murderous father,
she survives,
white stone face
miraculously intact.

May 12, 2008:
La bandera Puertorriqueña
wrestles between
La Cruz de Borgoña
and Old Glory,

while kids wearing
Abercrombie and Fitch
look over century-old
stone walls at a bay filled
with U.S. Navy ships.

Santa Barbara
waits for change
from their pockets
and listens to prayers
against destruction,
always wondering
under which flag
she might serve next.

©Li Yun Alvarado

Content credits Center for Puerto Rican Studies
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