100 Refutations: Hello Sister*


“Hello sister.” I come home after work and I write emails to poets. “I’m sorry.” I’ve lost count of how many. “It is a pleasure to meet you.” It is not easy to find them, and they don’t always write back. “And a pleasure to hear about this project.” Defunct publishers, broken links, and friends of friends relaying relayed messages. “I was very happy to hear that something like this was happening.” Hello, my message reads, you do not know me, but….

Bloodshot eyes and a blackout sky, emails and names like cotton-winged things flying through clouds of white ash. You don’t know me, but…. You don’t know me, but…until, “This whole thing, it’s so sad.” I read it in the dark to the sound of my own typing, La Virgen del Carmen hanging from my wrist. “I barely know what to say.” While, on my windowsill, white flowers bloom from a carnivorous bouquet of Venus flytraps. “I know it must be the same for you.” I finish reading the email and lean back in my chair. “I know what you are feeling.” White ash in my hair, crumpled cotton wings in my pockets, and it hurts to blink. “I feel it too.”

In the bathroom I stare into the mirror, and, leaning close to my reflection, I press a finger into my eye. “It’s so awful.” I drag my finger gently back and forth over my pupil, back and forth until the contact lens is dislodged, and then I draw the tips of my thumb and finger together, slowly peeling it off like dry milk skin. “How we are reduced to things said about us, just because they say it.” I feel the shrink-wrap tug on the surface of my eye and hear the suction-cup plop when they finally come off. “No one really saying anything about it either.” Crinkly cellophane contact lenses and the soft contour of a blurry silhouette in the mirror. “No one trying to help.” Like the blurry noise of a megaphone outside the US embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, instructing all of us to stay on the other side of the street. DO NOT CROSS TO THE EMBASSY SIDE UNTIL YOUR DESIGNATED TIME. DO NOT CROSS. I REPEAT. DO NOT. Soldiers, fences, and backpacks full of documents.

“I really wish I could be part of this project.” I splash water on my face, Relax, my mother always tells me, You’ve done this a dozen times before…you’ve always done everything right…both your sisters are residents…it’ll be easy…it’ll be fine. Soldiers and fences, and white megaphones blooming from atop a razor-edged fence. “I really wish…but I can’t.”

I close my eyes and feel heat emanating through my eyelids.

“I hope you can understand.”

You don’t know me, but…but….

“I hope you can see it from my side….”

I put my glasses on.

“With everything that’s been going on.”

The world comes back into focus.

“I just can’t risk it.”

And I see myself in the mirror.

“I have family in the US, I can’t risk not getting a visa.”

I see others like me waiting across the street, staring at a megaphone, at a fence, a wall, a river, a television screen, a podium.

“I’m sorry, I hope you can understand.”

I see myself typing on the screen, It’s ok, I understand.


From a series of emails, from a series of people.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V.


To help more directly, please visit:

Hispanic Federation: http://hispanicfederation.org

Hope for Haiti: https://hopeforhaiti.com

Salvadoran American Humanitarian Foundation: https://www.sahf.org


Lina M. Ferreira C.-V.


Lina M. Ferreira C.-V.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V. (100 Refutations translator and editor) earned MFAs in creative nonfiction writing and literary translation from The University of Iowa. She is the author of Drown Sever Sing from Anomalous Press and Don’t Come Back from Mad River Books, as well as editor, with Sarah Viren, of the forthcoming anthology Essaying the Americas. Her fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and translation work has been featured in journals including Bellingham ReviewChicago ReviewFourth GenreBrevityPoets & Writers, and The Sunday Rumpus, among others. She won Best of the Net and Iron Horse Review’s Discovered Voices Award, has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and is a Rona Jaffe fellow. She moved from Colombia to China to Columbus, Ohio to Richmond, Virginia, where she works as an assistant professor for Virginia Commonwealth University. Visit www.linawritesessays.com.


Amanda Dambrink (100 Refutations co-editor) works as an editor for the University of Wisconsin's Continuing Education, Outreach & E-Learning program in Madison, Wisconsin. She also holds an MA in creative nonfiction from Ohio University, and her previous work has appeared in Prairie Margins and The Normal School, among others.

Copyright (c) Lina M. Ferreira C.-V., 2018.