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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 8: June 2021
Prose Poem: 269 words
By Margaret Dornaus

Rewriting History: After Learning of Her Death


Once upon a time, a small group of us might gather to hear our friend’s childhood story: a Puertorriqueña’s tale bridging past and present. The intersection of her world and our world rounded by the soft haze of memory, and melody—the joyful rhythms of a distant salsa, the spectral colors of la puesta del sol, the sweet lingering aftertaste of tree-ripened papayas. It is, our friend might tell us, a revisionist history, the recounting of which charges the bookstore’s air with a positive imbalance of ions.

Once upon a time, a handful of strangers might join our circle, clutching her book to their breasts like a pilgrim’s badge. Approaching the long folding table where our friend centers herself—small yet majestic—like the island she was born to, the island of her parents, and her parents’ parents before her. Breaching the distance between creator and created.

Once upon a time, we might experience her world in the way of all pilgrims. Putting faith in a litany of questions and answers that become, once spoken, something altogether more sacred. Transforming the simplest of words into a landscape of poetry filled with childlike wonder.

Once upon a time, in that moment or this, I might also remember: the way her accent turned the hard edges of my name into a trinity of syllables; the way she reshaped me; the way she made life somehow seem more beautiful, less guttural, less difficult—La forma en que una poeta puede cambiar la fealdad en belleza. The way of a friend. The way of a poet.

Margaret Dornaus
Issue 8, June 2021

holds an MFA in the translation of poetry from the University of Arkansas. She recently had the privilege of editing and publishing a pandemic-themed anthology, Behind the Mask: Haiku in the Time of Covid-19, through her small literary press, Singing Moon. The first collection of her own poetry, Prayer for the Dead: Collected Haibun & Tanka Prose, received a 2017 Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America.

Her food and travel articles and her poems appear in national and international anthologies and journals, including publications specializing in Japanese short-form poetry such as: Contemporary Haibun Online; Haibun Today; Journeys 2015: An Anthology of International Haibun; Tanka 2020; The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku (2012-2013); and The Red River Book of Haibun.

Additional work is included in Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems (Dos Gatos), Ain’t Gonna Be Treated This Way (Village Press), Red Earth Review, and The Texas Poetry Calendar.

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