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A poem to share

By April 30, 2011No Comments

Last night I went to a Writing Show sponsored by James River Writers here in Richmond. In honor of poetry month, we feasted on the work and wisdom of Daniel Custódio, a slam artist from the Bronx; Luisa Igloria, a contemporary poet from the Virginia Beach area (also the head of the MFA writing program at Old Dominion University); and Susan Greenbaum, our local singer/songwriter and all-around darling person. Nathan Richardson hosted.

I don’t consider myself a poet…for reasons that may become self evident in a second. But, so what? I’m not an Olympic swimmer either. That doesn’t keep me from enjoying my own sad paddle across the pool — or from getting the benefits. What I learned from the panelists is that what matters more is the daily exercise (Luisa called it a devotional) of writing in a form that connects image and personal meaning so tightly.

So on this, the very last day of poetry month, I’m sharing a very early piece. The backstory is this:  My father-in-law’s first love was a girl named Bella Lechuga, which translates roughly to “beautiful lettuce” in English.

“What happened to her?” I asked him once.

He didn’t know. After they left Cuba, everyone scattered to the winds.

Señora Bella Lechuga

Beautiful Lettuce

Leans over the sewing machine

Puts one good eye close

To be sure her stitches are still straight.

Knuckles lumped hard and red

Claw her fingers around the lace.

In the hot metal and threads

She finds her white wrist gloves

and Pedrito’s cafe,

In the hammer of the needle

Machine guns on the streets of Havana.

Meg Medina

Author Meg Medina

I'm Meg Medina, author of libros for kids of all ages. I'm the 2019 Newbery medalist for Merci Suárez Changes Gears. I write strong girls, tough circumstances, and the connecting power of culture. Thanks for visiting my blog!

More posts by Meg Medina

Join the discussion No Comments

  • Terry S. says:

    But you are a wonderful poet – love your writing!

  • You most certainly are a poet, Meg! This is lovely. Beautiful Lettuce – what a name? And the images. I see her.

    Most of all, that last…the hammer of the needle/machine guns… made me gasp and start again at the first line.

    • Meg Medina says:

      Thanks, Anne! I am so sorry it’s taken this long to reply. I’ve been crazed with personal life duties. What a nice comment!

  • It was a truly wonderful experience! Many thanks to the James River Writers for inviting me. “Knowledge not applied, is nothing more than Trivia” ~ Nathan M. Richardson

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