Palladio’s Vitrum

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Through the Palladian window,
one can watch her spread butter on wheat toast
then carefully sprinkle cinnamon sugar across it
evenly,
releasing granules from between smooth fingers
her hija’s breakfast favorite.

At Saturday markets,
she stands over the fryer
folding meats, onion, and vegetables
into corn masa.

Carefully folding contents,
then dripping the white tri corner hats
an inevitable browning of oil
into starchy veins.

Her thick lips tell
the readiness of
cilantro and bean creations,
Curling up when dissatisfied
Pursing at 180 degrees when contented.

Her sister in law, the one who believes in the God of the Sun,
braids her niece’s hair and watches the kids
who jump from hula hoop to hula hoop
carefully staying within those plastic circles.

Yesterday she bought her daughter
some neon-colored fish at Petco
trademarked, with little “R’s” in circles next to their names,
patented life.

Today she feels as though
those fish with scales of rainbow
were swimming through her veins
and pooling in her stomach.

Luminescent creatures provoking internal excitement.

She had fallen in love again for the first time in a while,
but this time,
with life.

She works now with her brother, five years her senior.
He explains to customers how they buy the ground corn
at the Food Lion on Route 250.

He forgets to add that they go on Sundays
after church
and often see dying onions between
sidewalks and parking stops,
soon rotten,
already forgotten.

He forgets to add that her husband left her last year
and how she used to pick him up from his construction site
where he built homes, piece by piece, for others.

Every day she’d pass the sign,
“lava las llantas”
with a smiley face smudged in dust by someone’s square thumb.

Every day she’d pick up her husband
who’d smile only at their daughter
whose hair ties of plastic ponies
held her dark strands of gel streaked hair.

And then one day her husband stopped eating
the dish she made for him,
sautéed peas with artichoke hearts
and little bits of pink ham
at the center of his plate.

Still,
one can watch her spread butter on wheat toast
then carefully sprinkle cinnamon sugar across it
evenly,
releasing granules from between smooth fingers,
her hija’s breakfast favorite.

*first appeared in Young Writer’s Space, August 2015

Olivia Vande Woude

Olivia Vande Woude is a senior from Charlottesville, Virginia. She has been writing stories for most of her life, and has recently focused her attention on writing poetry. She has attended the New England Young Writers Conference, the UVA Young Writers Workshop, and was selected to read her work at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Her work has been featured in Literary Orphans and Canvas literary magazine. Olivia is an intern at Tupelo Press Teen Writing Center, where she is co-editor of the Crossroads Anthology.

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