Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meet Writer, Magdalena. Poem to share

Magdalena and Daniel Herreshoff are new to Cuenca.  They stayed at 2 of our rentals while they looked around for a more long-term place.  Madeleen is a gifted writer and we are honored she gave us permission to share some of her Cuenca impressions on the blog. 

Here is a picture of Madeleen and Rich enjoying the sunshine one day (photo taken by Daniel).

Here is one of Madeleen's poems we'd like to share with you.  We think it really gives a flavor of a little slice of life here.   We'll be sharing more about Magdalena and more of her writings in the future.



From early dawn until noon, blue, white and black

Garbage bags accumulate on the sidewalk

Sick with the flu and unable to leave my apartment

I watch the embarrassing mass from the fifth floor.

Across the street two indigenous women sit

on the edge of a window sill away from the bright sun

surrounded by shopping bags, 4 white buckets with lids,

bundled scarves shoved behind a lamp post.

One of the women wears a tall white Panama hat

like a floating pie in the sky, a dark magenta sweater

tucked into a red velour skirt, thick with pleats.

The other is dressed in a turquoise sweater,

cobalt blue skirt, and a dark green bundle

crossed over her back, most likely

an infant, unaware of garbage bags.

Slowly they rise from the window sill

Cross the street with buckets in hand

Bend over the blue, white and black bags

Unknotting each one to search with bare hands for

banana peels, egg shells, papaya leftovers, fish bones,

Wilted vegetables, smashed fruit or coffee grinds.

Sweating in the heat of the day, wiping

Each scrap is pushed deep into the white bucket

Unknotting and knotting, their skirts scallop

In yellow, green and red embroidery,

golden sequins best suited for dance.

The infant slides from hips to buttocks

towards hidden treasures; a subtle rhythm

of harvesting waste inside pores.

I cannot take my eyes of them, spellbound

And ashamed of the overflowing garbage.

Half way through, the women carry their full buckets

Back to the shadow side of the street

On the edge of the window sill they rest

no words, no sudden gestures, no hurry

they wait for their backs to relax, muscles tight

from lifting garbage bags of rotting food

for pigs, perhaps a single cow, and stray chickens.

An old man arrives and waits on the sill's edge

for the women to tuck vivid skirts under broad hips

and sort their gleanings on the cool pavement.

I had not noticed the bags with trinkets until now;

with my binoculars I make out each item:

a pair of “gold” glasses, a little book, a ceramic picture

A mechanical toy, papers and folders.

Handed from woman to man to woman

each is explored , glasses are tried, books turned upside down

and separated into shopping bags.

Stepping away from the window I almost did not see

the two small women, infant, and old man,

full with buckets and bags tied high on their backs

disappear into the traffic of snarling taxis and cars.

As if by clockwork, the garbage truck pulls up,

Young men toss recyclables and trash up into the air,

hours of women's diligence erased in minutes.

Perhaps I will buy a bucket, save my scraps

for the Recicladores of Avenida Molina Mora.


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