poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Martha Sanchez-Lowery



American girl we landed at your feet
and took off to sea
that first aimless winter walk
after the January Peregrine Mass at St. Matthew’s
while waiting to go back to Mrs. Maldonado’s rooming house
which closed from ten to four to discourage indolence
two days into our immigration
we found in this circled center of city
a landlocked creature like us
yielding to the sea
in an empty fountain that would flow in summer
from a great basin above her head
below in the curves of the maiden’s arms
birds sheltered from the snow and
hid in her robes which hid the world
from her hipbones ships were setting out
I crushed into my mother’s for warmth
on one of the circular benches
I asked what it all meant
being nine and in the habit of asking what it all meant
knowing the answers were going to be
strange and bitter tinged with sweet
well, like the life I’d known up to then
she said it was for the sea we had never seen
its strength
“la vida contra viento y marea”
life despite the winds and tides
beautiful and strong like we would need to be
but lovely and loved
like the carefully carved luxuriant hair
of this American girl
there were things that went unsaid and others not understood
as we crossed back and forth that afternoon
from the warmth of People’s Drugstore across the circle
back to the dolphins navigating the globe at the feet of the girl
back to that American girl
whose long hair obscured cloud and sky for now.


Martha Sanchez-Lowery was was born in La Paz, Bolivia and is based in Washington, DC. Lately she has been dedicated to her perfumed garden. Her poem "The Dark Earth Call" was set to dance by Jane Franklin Dance Company. She is included on the CD recordings 31 Arlington Poets and Live at Iota. She served as poetry editor for Minimus, an annual literary journal, and was Director of the Word Works Washington Prize for many years. Her poetry has appeared in Moving Words, Poetas del Fuego, Winners: An Anthology, and Cabin Fever. Her chapbook Bocanegra was published by Mica Press. She recently edited the Collected Works of Maria Quiroga Vargas, one of the foremost poets of Bolivia, and is working on a translation of this work.

The statue at Dupont Circle in memory of Admiral Samuel Francis Dupont was designed by Daniel Chester French who also designed the Lincoln Monument. It was carved by the Italian immigrant stone masons who helped carve the stones for the National Cathedral. Audrey Munson was the female muse for the sea—she was known as the model for “America.”


Published in Volume 11, Number 4, Fall 2010.


To read more by this author:
Martha Sanchez-Lowery