Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday, April 16, 2010

This is the first poem of mine that received "public" recognition. It was awarded first prize in a poetry contest and it is especially memorable not because of the validation but because it is when I began to truly feel comfortable with thinking about myself as a poet.

I have written several poems about my parents and a few of them, like this one, are about the idea that my parents have other lives besides just being my parents. And that is always a magical and intriguing thought.


In 1949 my parents were in love
living on East 14th in a cramped
stucco walkup, above Manuel Lopez
an artist who painted holy cards on
stiff, pale blue paper,
using dimestore watercolors.

I can guess why he did it.
My mother’s hair was the color of chestnuts.
Soft, spongy, virgin curls that had not endured
the roughness of a bristle brush.

I was not born yet. I was as remote as starlight.
It’s hard for me to believe that
my parents made love
above an eccentric saint-painter
in a roomful of angels,
and I wasn’t there.

But now I am. My mother is blushing.
This is the lovely thing about art.
It can bring back the dead.
It can wake the sleeping,
as it might have late that night
when my father and mother made love above Manuel,
who lay in the dark thinking holy, holy, holy.

--Catherine Fraga

1 comment:

  1. I read this poem years ago. I have no idea where. It seemed, and seems, utterly magical. Thank you for writing it. I am glad that it stuck with me enough that I could find it again. The phrase that I most remembered was "I was as remote as starlight."