Newbery award winner and New York Times bestselling author

A poem to share

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.

Comments on: "A poem to share" (4)

  1. Terry S. said:

    But you are a wonderful poet – love your writing!

  2. 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.

    • 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!

  3. 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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