Merida (Yucatán)

by Kelly Cherry


Too Anglo to sit still for a siesta

I roamed the streets of Merida, city

Of sun and open markets and museums,

The stone buildings with Spanish arches grand

Yet discreet, a model of good manners.

In early evening everyone assembled

In the posada, on benches beneath old trees

With spreading, leafy branches, the first of the stars

Strung like piñatas from the velveteen sky.

The city seemed to wear a signature fragrance,

Something light and elegant, purchased in Paris.

A city in which a woman could disappear

For a week or two or three, leaving behind

Controlling men, or a controlling man,

And dine alone al fresco on red snapper

Caught that afternoon and have a glass

Of wine in which the moon lingered like

A stop watch, or a small sailing boat.



Kelly Cherry has published twenty books of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, eight chapbooks, and translations of two classical plays. Her most recent titles are The Woman Who, a collection of short stories (2010), The Retreats of Thought: Poems (2009) and Girl in a Library: On Women Writers & the Writing Life (2009), and in 2013 she will publish The Life and Death of Poetry. She was the first recipient of the Hanes Poetry Prize given by the Fellowship of Southern Writers for a body of work. Other awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bradley Major Achievement (Lifetime) Award, a USIS Speaker Award (The Philippines), a Distinguished Alumnus Award, three Wisconsin Arts Board fellowships, the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook Award for Distinguished Book of Stories in 1999 (2000), and selection as a Wisconsin Notable Author. In 2010, she was a Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Currently Poet Laureate of Virginia, she is Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She and her husband live in Virginia.



photo by Dan Griffin


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