Posted by: gdevi | June 7, 2012

Natasha Trethewey – 19th US Poet Laureate

Natasha Trethewey is the 19th US poet laureate.

Kitchen Maid with Supper at Emmaus, or the Mulata by Natasha Trethewey

—after the painting by Diego Velazquez, ca, 1619


She is the vessels on the table before her:

the copper pot tipped toward us, the white pitcher

clutched in her hand, the black one edged in red

and upside down. Bent over, she is the mortar

and the pestle at rest in the mortar–still angled

in its posture of use. She is the stack of bowls

and the bulb of garlic beside it, the basket hung

by a nail on the wall and the white cloth bundled

in it, the rag in the foreground recalling her hand.

She’s the stain on the wall the size of her shadow–

the color of blood, the shape of a thumb. She is echo

of Jesus at table, framed in the scene behind her:

his white corona, her white cap. Listening, she leans

into what she knows. Light falls on half her face.


Digression #1: Whenever someone asks her where she is from, my daughter will say “I am from Texas.”  Well, I think so too. Yesterday she wanted me to make her beef tacos for dinner. To me, making tacos is like quilting–so many different pieces all to be assembled in the proper order. So I shredded the lettuce, grated the cheese, made the meat with the taco seasoning (Taco Bell in our household–K and D swear by it — I don’t eat meat), minced the tomato, and then–this is not part of the traditional taco–but I always mince avocado as well for the taco filling. So K and D ate tacos by the dozen–both hard and soft shells– yesterday. My daughter woke up this  morning — middle school closed for summer vacation yesterday — and straightaway asked me — mama, can I have tacos for breakfast? So it was amazing– I started shredding and mincing and grating in the morning. When I grow up, mama, D said, watching me, I am going to move to Mexico and grate cheese. Really, honey? I said. You will grate cheese for a living? I asked her. Yes, because the cheese is the most important part of the taco. I love taco. Listen to the word taco. “Ta – koh” It just comes out to you.  I was reminded of all of my students–I used to teach at this church school in Old Dallas when we lived in Texas –my students were all Mexican immigrant women who were now living in the US–had children born in the US and did not know English to speak to the school or at work or anything – they were very very sweet women — and they always brought me homemade Mexican food when they came for class. They knew I didn’t eat meat so they would make everything without lard. When D was born they made me this beautiful baby blanket hand-embroidered. Such sweet sweet women; I miss teaching them and talking with them! Now D is all excited — we are going to New Jersey to visit Ammu for a few days before her track and soccer camps begin. Take Noni and D to Philly and New York and the beach.

Digression #2: Even with the seemingly endless rain and cold temperatures, my plants are growing well. Thank you dear things in the universe! Inch by inch row by row . . .

Digression #3: There were these robins that had made their nests in the juniper bushes out in the front of the house. The baby robins had just hatched. And there were more eggs as well. Well this afternoon we found a huge rat snake in the bushes–it ate the entire nests, ate the new hatchlings, the eggs, everything. Very sad, isn’t it?


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