Walk to Market
The streets are as pebbled
as the bottom of the ocean,
basalt and calcium stones
set as skinny sidewalks.
You can tell the tourists from the locals
by who moves out of the street
when the cars come by.
When the cars come by
the wind rushes as they
barrel down the narrow ruas, roads.
There are no street signs to mark the corners.
I get lost on a block full of gentlemen’s clubs
until I ask two women “Fala Inglês?”
and directions to o mercado,
the outdoor farmer’s market.
I travel opposite the locals
with bags of bread and vegetables
until the gates of the market appear.
The scene is a twirl of fruta, batatas (potatoes),
ananás (pineapples), piexe (fish).
Old men gesticulate as their sons
ring customers up.
I imagine them four generations ago
selling the same foods,
dream my great-grandmother came here to buy food
before sailing to America,
her three-month old hidden under her cloak.
I came to try and understand this place
where beer is cheaper than water,
where cows outnumber people two to one,
where every face is brown and beautiful.
If I could understand this island,
I could understand
Jenna Rodrigues is a storyteller from Maine. Her poems appear in The Blue Route, Oddball Magazine, Insert Lit Mag Here, and Word of Mouth, Hartwick College’s Literary Magazine. A 2014 Hartwick College alumna, she received the school’s Abraham L. Kellogg Oratorical Prize last May and an honorable mention for the school’s Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets for her poem “Tea House Tribute” last April. You can find her at the beach.