Poetry: Hemingway Country by Monica Rico

In “HEMINGWAY COUNTRY,” the speaker describes the difficulties of growing up Latinx, or non-white, in a world of whiteness and suspicion. Always a target, the speaker learns to navigate a world where love seems foreign or violent and the only reality possible is otherness.



When did departure make me

nervous to drink water, and instead

focus on a piece of gum


tiny particles of mint hidden in

the glacial recess of my molars.

The first time


I was pulled over

the cop asked what I was doing

going 30 in a 25.

Answering felt hardly worth it.

I am sick of white people


and their cottages,

so what if they don’t lock their doors.

When I went crazy

I couldn’t eat


the banana bread my mother gave me.

If I put it near my mouth,

the thought of not having anymore

became too great


like the game I played as a child


naming every object in my room

before falling asleep as the last,


until I got to myself.

My cousin said I was never very good at math


even the three hours it takes to get up north

are, an eternity.

I haven’t stopped at a public restroom in years.


My father says if we lived in a different state,

he could’ve never married my mother.

He shouts towards her,

he would’ve been arrested and thrown in jail.

Not long ago,

my father let me hold

a pistol with both hands and said

below the waist isn’t a felony.

My husband stood before me

and we weren’t married then,

he hadn’t taken me to Petoskey


nor had I seen him glide along the water

as his favorite bird:

half airplane

and half boat.

I wanted him to think I could

shoot him and not myself


as if violence made it possible

to understand love.

I didn’t like sleeping


in the woods, although

I only tried it once.

Everything shut

up when I realized


I could be in love



soaking and

savoring the

body of Lake Michigan.

A small prayer of an afterlife


among the mayflies

who return as water.

The curved crest

in the eyes of my husband

blue as heron and gray

as a hull caught in the wing

span of a wave tempering

the edge of my plate.


Monica Rico

Monica Rico is a Mexican American CantoMundo Fellow, Macondista, and Hopwood Graduate Poetry Award winner who grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program and works for the Bear River Writers’ Conference. She has received grants from the Good Hart Artist Residency and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Rupture, The Nation, Waxwing, Essay Daily, The Fiddlehead, Poetry Daily, Sporklet 12, The Breakbeat Poets Vol.4 LatiNext, Anomaly, Pleiades, Black Warrior Review, BOAAT, and Split this Rock.  

Close Menu