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:
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.
up when I realized
I could be in love
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 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.