by Nancy Vieira Couto
Margarida saw the Queen in that summer of 1901 when all the days were damp and filled with the smell of salt. She couldn’t see the future through the fog, but she imagined machines, money, and motion, a city crammed with tenement houses and streetcars. She was fourteen years old. She and her mother, Maria Julia, had just arrived in Ponta Delgada, having said good-bye forever to aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, the living and the dead. They had their freshly-issued passports, and their trunks were still in the cart that had carried them the short distance from Rosário, Lagoa. Soon they would board the Dona Maria. But what was that commotion?
They had forgotten all about it. Yes, Queen Amelia and King Carlos were visiting Ponta Delgada, and there was the Queen right on the other side of a large group of cheering people. Margarida, who was slim and quick, darted under elbows and between skirts to get a good look. The Queen was tall and seemed kind. She smiled and waved at the crowd. I like to think that Margarida caught her eye, that she and the Queen were poised for a moment on a pivot in time, and that they would remember the moment always, even as they traveled in opposite directions, one to the New World and one back to the old maelstrom of political intrigues. I know Margarida remembered.
Before she married Carlos, Amelia had been a French princess, the great-granddaughter of Louis Philippe, the “Citizen King.” Louis Philippe had a long history of rolling with punches, starting with his years of exile when he earned a modest income teaching in a boys’ school and later traveled the world incognito. Amelia must have inherited her great-grandfather’s talent for coping with sudden change, as she would demonstrate in 1908. As the Royal Family crossed the Terreiro do Paço in an open carriage, a couple of assassins shot and killed the King and his older son, Crown Prince Luís Filipe. But when a third shot hit the younger son, Prince Manuel, in the arm, Queen Amelia turned and whacked the gunman with a huge bouquet she had just been given, catching him off guard and saving Manuel’s life. Those were big punches. Amelia ordered some black dresses from her dressmakers.
Margarida went to the school for immigrants. She learned to say “I see the cat I see the dog” but wondered where that was going to get her. Not very far, she decided, and she didn’t go back. She met José at a dance. He was good-looking, and she was slim and quick. Where else but in New Bedford could a girl from Rosário, Lagoa, meet a boy from Ribeirinha, Ribeira Grande. They married on April 1, 1905, and in no time at all they became Margaret and Joseph, although at home they still used the old names. Joseph was a fireman. He worked in the cotton mills, not putting out fires but keeping them going. He also kept a dream going, a dream of becoming a citizen of the United States. He practiced writing his name, Joseph Vieira, over and over again on scraps of paper. His handwriting was shaky. “Joseph” and “Vieira” were the only words he knew how to write.
The courtroom was so full of hope that Joseph could hardly breathe. Soon he would raise his hand and take the oath of citizenship. At least, that’s what he thought, but he had some punches to roll with, too. There in the courtroom Joseph had a stroke, his first, and wasn’t able to take the oath. Afterwards he had to walk with a cane. He never became a citizen. Years later, on a summer morning in 1941, Joseph went into the bathroom to shave and get ready for the day. His second stroke was as sudden as an assassin’s bullet. He died on the Fourth of July. If Margaret had had a bouquet of flowers, she would have wanted to whack someone with it. But there really wasn’t anyone to whack. So she bought some black dresses and a black coat and a black hat. What else could she do?
This year I signed up for the 52 Ancestors challenge. The theme for the first week is "Start." Because most of us begin the genealogical journey with grandparents, I am sharing a story about two of mine, the maternal grandmother that I knew and the maternal grandfather who died before I was born. #52ancestors ~ Nancy Vieira Couto
Nancy Vieira Couto lives in Ithaca, New York, where she is poetry editor of Epoch , Cornell University's Literary Magazine..
Visit Nancy Vieira Couto's website at: http://foothillspublishing.com/2011/id24.htm
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IN THIS ISSUE–––
• David S. Warren -
OOO Editor's Notes
• Georgia E. Warren -
• Sue Ryn -
I Never Imagined This
• Mary Gilliland -
• David S. Warren -
Poem to Archie
• Don Brennan -
Take Me To the River
• Peter Fortunato -
• Peter Wetherbee -
Sinister Ballad of a
David S.Warren -
We are Nuts
• Rhian Ellis -
• Garriel Orgrease -
• Daniel Lovell -
One for Miriam
• Nancy Viera Couto -
and the Queen
• David Rollow -
• Franklin Crawford -
When I Have Thoughts
That I May Cease to Pee
• David Rollow -
Review: A. R. Ammons
• Chris MacCormack -
Packages (an excerpt)
The running joke had become that I was being passed off as Billy Gibbons from Zee Zee Top. I wandered the streets of the French Quarter with family and friends of family. Whenever anyone of the group shouted, “Billy Gibbons, everyone, Billy Gibbons!” I was to go “Har har har.” (go to story)
When I Have Thoughts That I May Cease to Pee
by Franklin Crawford
My brain, which I am very attached to even though we’ve never met, is doomed to liquefy and bubble out of my ears, nose and mouth, shortly after I am as dead as the DNC.
It’s not the most pleasant thought my mind ever conjured, given that I suspect my brain doesn’t like to imagine its post-mortem condition any more than whatever this self – this symbiont with whom I share my weathered hide – wishes to dwell upon. (go to story)
by Georgia E. Warren
As soon as I got back to my dorm room I remembered. There was no textbook, we were supposed to research the famous artwork of Milan. The test was to identify and discuss the Italian Renaissance art was located in Milan. It was late. The library was closed. I decided I should go to bed and try to get to the library before class.
But I was exhausted: I sat on my bed ready to take my shoes off and fell asleep in my clothes.
Within a minute a very nice Catholic Nun shook my shoulder and told me I should not sleep in the pews of the sanctuary. I told her the problem about my class. I did not tell her it was thousands of miles away
(go to article)________________________
Reiki: Just The Facts
"Take Me To The River"
by Don Brennan
“Whoa! Where did you come from?’’ I set it down on the picnic table as fragments of memories washed over me. It was an old friend that I had found as a child, on a family vacation, somewhere one summer. Even though it was still covered with bits of soil, it was easy to see that it was loaded with interesting minerals. “I’m going to have to hose you off.”
The next two mornings, I spent more time staring at the stone than reading my book. The words were creating images not from The Celestine Prophecy, but from the day this stone first came into my life.
I had glimpses of it sparkling
in a shallow pool of water at
the bottom of a riverbed.
(go to article)
by David Rollow
The Muse came knocking at the writer’s window on a night of wild weather. Her skin seen through the windowpanes was luminous and pale, except for her flushed cheeks. Her green eyes glistened. Never had she looked more beautiful. Gladdened by this unexpected visit--for the page lay empty on his table and the pen lay untouched by the page--the writer stood and unlocked the window, his heart surging against his ribs as if they, too, somehow, were to be unlocked and his heart set free. (go to story)
by Mary Gilliland
Myth is longing. I lose myself in myth. When I would re-read the texts, or re-imagine them, myth led me out of family problems I could do nothing about. It contextualized the martyred strivings of Roman Catholic indoctrination. (excerpt, go to full story)
Margarida, José, and the Queen
by by Nancy Vieira Couto
Margarida saw the Queen in that summer of 1901 when all the days were damp and filled with the smell of salt. She couldn’t see the future through the fog, but she imagined machines, money, and motion, a city crammed with tenement houses and streetcars. She was fourteen years old. She and her mother, Maria Julia, had just arrived in Ponta Delgada, having said good-bye forever to aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, the living and the dead.
(go to story)
The focus of our next Metaphysical Times will be "Memory." (see full size)
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