Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Alba for Donatila

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Alba for Donatila

Article excerpt

In her clapboard house with hard-packed dirt floors.

In this place of ghostly waking, my grandmother

rises from dark slumber, already dressed, her hair

combed over each ear, held by minnow silver

hair pins, her eyes already accustomed to light.

She moves about the kitchen quietly, but efficiently,

lifts a pan here, lights the small gas burner, readies

the coffee pot, travels up and down the hallway

straightening up the house, a load of laundry.

The sunlight flecking in through the slit curtains,

these slivers of early brilliance. I catch up with her

in the kitchen where she bends and kisses my head,

wipes the sleep-crusties from the corners of my eyes

so I can see better, para que mires mejor, she says.

I ask her why it is that I can never beat her to waking,

and she smiles because she knows I've been trying.

There are things to be done in a house before everyone

awakes, and she wants to do it undisturbed. She loves

to open the kitchen door, breathe gardenia-scented air,

feed old rice to the chickens and guinea fowl that live

wild on her property. …

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