Poem: “Moved by Grace”


Moved by Grace

When I was 32 days shy of nine, my parents moved us.
Away from the brilliant green waters of Recife
Away from Lourdes, who made the spongiest strawberry sponge cake
And she could sew aprons and matching dresses too.

They moved us away from the vast, tall green stalks of sugarcane fields
That welcomed us to our favorite beach, Porto de Galinha.
If I had a machete, I could’ve cut a stick and sucked it
Like the natives did, as I bounced along the bouncy dirt road
To the beach with only reefs and Jangahda boats, and no bathroom.

They transplanted us someplace without asking our permission.
I think the fellowship grant was better at OSU. Or something………

I left my tiny, rabid kitten behind
The one I’d found in a fenced off construction site.
I’d heard her small, “Meow, Meow”.
I named her “Goochi” and
She wanted to be moved.

We moved during the 1972 Olympics.
I remember them playing on TV , in the Miami airport .
That was after my sister threw up on her brand new boots, while still in flight.
Only she had gotten boots in Rio.
My feet were too big, and my calves too small.
I still have skinny legs. Only now,
Now I’m thankful!
Oh! And I have no memory of 11 Israeli athletes being gunned down by terrorists.
They were victims, truly.
I was just unfortunate.

We moved to the zenophobic cornfields of Ohio.
Where the corn is sweet for a season
But the children are bitter all year long.

They hated my Portugese.
They envied my tan.
They mocked my memories of bloated babies sucking sugar cane straight from the field.

They sang, “Nixon, Nixon he’s our man, put McGovern in the can!”
I was the only kid in my fourth grade class mock election
To raise my hand for the ill-fated man.
But, who got the last laugh. Sort of.

They would’ve hated the AFL-CIO sticker on my storm door. The front storm door,
If they had known it wasn’t a tattoo template, or better yet, a Nazi eagle.
Let them munch their non-union grapes and guzzle Gallo wine,
For I have the fine wine of truth!

A truth that formed in the rough waters of the daily high tide.
My brother and I know what it’s like to be thrown from a tractor inner tube.
To be drawn and crashed into the ocean floor,
And to pop up, laughing!

We lived Truth with a black teen-ager,
Eric, the California exchange student,
Rejected by white Brazilians and white Americans alike.

Except we loved Eric.
And he gave us the inner tube.
And made the memory, of an Ebony 18 year old
A giant of 6”4”, walking down the beach,
Stooping a little, while holding a platinum blond toddler’s hand.
And his “Brazilian Mom”, my Mom, loved Eric, and he loved her,
Even though she yelled at him when he skipped school to buy suede, purple, fringed thigh high boots.
He loved her until the oh-to-soon end when he moved, for the final time.
Last year.

Those dry Ohio Corn Cobs only remember:
Egging my house
And beating me up
And not sharing Charms lollipops at lunch with me.

I’ll never say I liked Columbus
Even though I can sing the Ohio State fight song,
And remember collecting Buckeye nuts off Jan Chupka’s front yard
As if they were perfect butterfly sea shells,
Exposed on the sands of Recife after high tide.

But those years were threads in the tapestry of my life.
With grace, some corn silk wove its way into my memory.
In His mercy, God used the bitter cup of an Ohio purgatory
To glorify His name, through me.

Those years forged a person who can forgo the ocean waves, for waving cornstalks.
Pleasure doesn’t move me.
I have all eternity to snorkel and chase shining fish, if that’s God’s will.
I am not a barren corn stalk.
A husk hiding a cob withered before maturing.

My twelve children’s lives proclaim,
“You didn’t kill me! You made me stronger!”
Life is as sweet as warm sugarcane, after it is hacked off its base.
And just as juicy too.

Be yourself!
Dance to folk music, or the music in your head!
Move however you want, whenever you’re moved!
Proclaim that coconuts are green before they turn brown!
Even if you get sent to the principal’s office, to be paddled for insubordination.

Live your life without shame, to the Glory of your Creator,
Wherever He chooses to plant you, through the circumstances of your perfect life.
The loneliness of the cross may be yours,
But so is the joy of the resurrection!
Rejoice in Hope, for your final move will be

Stacy Peterson


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  • goral

    This is the experience of many of us who have come to these shores not of our own volition.
    While yet young, we were like St. Peter in his old age – taken where we didn’t want to go.
    The country of our youth was paradise. I’ve never tasted wild mountainside berries that sweet, since.
    I’ve never shot streams of fresh milk into my ey…uh, mouth since, and I never got kicked, not for that reason.

    Not all of us can make beautiful poetry of it like
    this lady poet can. I suspect that all of us have this poetry in our hearts and live it where God transplanted us.
    In my case the state motto says – Qui Transulit Sustinet.
    Never mind what the pols and the profs say.
    It means: He sustains those whom He transplanted.
    What do they know about Latin?!

    The Yanks are not sweet, they don’t dance to folk music and they have a disdain for Latin too.
    So what?!

    The Lord provides “sugarcane” for us wherever we are. Our detractors made us stronger and leaner.
    We have “skinny legs” like a gazelle and have graceful movements and lustrous eyes.
    God blesses us and God blesses America.

  • noelfitz

    Thanks so much Goral and Stacy for very meaningful posts.

    We Catholics should accept all, be they Hispanic, Irish or German, even if they supported the AFL-CIO and McGovern.

    Happy St Patrick’s day to y’all.