This article traces the figure of polvo (dust) across the writing career of Puerto Rican and New York writer Manuel Ramos Otero. Polvo heralds the macabre sensuality of his early short stories, long before his diagnosis with HIV, and persists and morphs through his later essays and poetry up until his eventual death in 1990 from AIDS complications. Writing defiantly as a queer, a feminist, a Puerto Rican, and a sidoso, he produced work that invites death and desire to commingle through a figuration of dust, as a scattered substance that covers skin, coats translation, and dirties conventional genres. Polvo illuminates the dimensions and risks of relation as a particulate matter that exposes our porosity—clinging and hovering in the space between bodies, between the past and the future, between life and death. As the dust settles in the wake of Hurricane María, so too can polvo be read as prescient for how coloniality lingers as enduring conditions of debility and precarity. Ramos Otero's affinity for finitude, figured through polvo, counterintuitively conjures a relational desire that privileges the porous, the marginal, and the always precarious possibility of survival. Polvo moves across the different genres and phases of Ramos Otero's work as a matter that refuses to disentangle the material realities of queerness and coloniality.

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