Tribute to International Women’s Day Through Poetry

Left to right: Giselt, Simona, Jennifer, Beth, Norma, Robin, Debbie, Kelly, Becky

Who knew there would be a full moon illuminating the courtyard at Las Granadas  Bed and Breakfast last night, March 8, when Professor Robin Greene and I planned our Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat a year ago?  And, who knew that it would coincide with International Women’s Day?  Who knew that nine magnifient women would gather on this day to lift voices in poetry, song, memoir, and reflective writing?  Sometimes, the universe aligns perfectly.

 

We invite Zapotec women from the village of Teotitlan del Valle where our retreat was based to share our experience.  Expatriates join in.  Together we sit, hear stories and poems about mothers, loved ones, the experience of first-time travel out of the U.S., a first date.  We honor each other with applause, a wonderful meal, a toast of sweetened juice made from the hibiscus flower (agua de jamaica).  This is our local tribute to the universality of women.  We lift our voices in community.

 

Rebecca King, one of our retreat participants, is a writer and poet who returned to college to complete a degree in English and creative writing as an adult.  She will graduate from Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC, this spring.  This is the poem she wrote during the retreat and read last night, giving me permission to share it with you. (Above: Becky works on last minute changes before the fiesta and final reading.)

 

(Reyna’s mole amarillo with green beans, choyote squash and potatoes, that she dishes out from the cooking pot.)

Where I Stand by Rebecca King

I stand

on the kitchen chair,

in the white house

before the twins came.

My mother, wearing

her green dress with the

white flowers,

moves her arms

back and forth,

a slow rolling.

I am five,

clumsy, messy.

Soft, squishy dough

sticks to my fingers.

Together, my mother

and I knead, roll,

gather the dough

back to center.

 

Now,

almost forty years

later, I stand

on the dirt floor

of Reyna’s kitchen

in Teotitlan, Mexico.

I move my arms

back and forth

a slow rolling.

I am forty two,

clumsy, messy.

The mano de matate

heavy in my hands.

I knead, roll,

grind the onions,

peppers, tomatillas,

roasted sesame

seeds into stone.

I gather the paste

back to center,

feel the ancient

rhythm of the women

where I stand.

 

 

Photos immediately above:  we are eating a lunch of amarillo molé prepared by cooking teacher Reyna Mendoza Ruiz outside in her immaculately clean traditional dirt floor kitchen.  She prepared the luscious traditional sauce using a metate that Rebecca refers to in her poem.  Rebecca opted to also take a cooking class with Reyna, which inspired her poem.

 

 

4 Responses to Tribute to International Women’s Day Through Poetry

  1. Wonderful, Norma. I can just see it, hear it, smell it. And a moving, rich poem by Becky to honor all women, all times…

  2. This poem is a delightful summary of p ast lives, lives changed, lives blessed. How I would have love to have been working along side these creative women.

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