“People used to say I had my father’s hands. I don’t know if he also had his father’s. But maybe they have mine. Maybe I’m the one who lent them; maybe I’m marking them now with every gesture, every fold. We have to read legacy backward, travel it with our fingers as if deciphering the uneven punctuation of Braille. Sailing upward: fashioning a ship out of the body’s own sad wood” (Hernandez 29).
One thing about Adalber Salas Hernandez is that he can make the horrors of the unfathomable sound so goddamn beautiful. I wondered how he learned to string his words together like a fine heirloom necklace. In his fever-dream-esque writing style, he guides us through one-night stands ending in homicide as well as childhood trauma resulting in “broken glass being the first layer of what would one day be my skin”. Hernandez’s writing style is so haunting, it’s as if when you read his words, they read you back.
The entire time I spent glued to the pages of Hernandez’s writing, I found myself thinking: is there a formula, or is he just that good? The Science of Departures is the product of a poet whose words double as his hands, and there is so much to read – so much to feel.
The Science of Departures is about endings and how they come and go, and the gut-wrenching aftermath. Through every poem, Hernandez gives you his eyes as metaphorical binoculars, and any fleeting hue of rose is a holograph, or a missed speck of blood.
Lyra Taylor is a black nonbinary poet from St Louis, currently in their first year of their MFA at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.