The Opposite of Breathing is Cement by Icess Fernandez Rojas
Breathtaking in every form, The Opposite of Breathing is Cement is an ode to healing by exposing long-held wounds to the light in hopes that something fruitful is created. Icess Fernandez Rojas' debut collection dribbles between political arches, cultural identity, love, and mental illness where in dark corners of the mind exists a brave flicker from a candle. That light is more than hope, it's the start of something new. "We yell our whispers and /save subtlety for our art" in "Forgetting Cuba;" in "My Mothers," Rojas asks to "Recall baptism in clear waters, salted by Earth and divine prayers / slapped awake by rolling waves." She plays with form in duplexes and letters, which provides a brevity to the otherwise intense pacing of this collection. Yearn for a change that "comes in pixels and presence / in proclamations and the pounding of feet on cement." Through these poems, bruises, lacerations, and grief are laid bare in unapologetic language. However, from these words also comes joy from the most surprising places, happiness among the ruins of despair, and images of something better always promised around the next corner.