In Quincy Gray McMichael’s vivid “After Portugal”, the simple act of doing a load of laundry after returning home from time abroad brings back moonlit memories. In these lines, the flavors of Portuguese cuisine, the cities, the wine, the orange trees, and the quiet spaces where wistfulness and nostalgia reside are illuminated. Even if you’ve never spent time in Portugal or elsewhere on the Iberian Peninsula, this poem will make you miss it dearly.
Now two days home,
the loose heap of blue-flowered cover-up, linen shirt, yellow dress
brings me back:
colors, fabrics, piled together
summon the crisp dry night
the hot Algarve sun.
The fallen oranges.
I remember those few sweet
minutes at midnight:
you, asleep, snoring from the wine
me, abuzz, in our palatial
I marvel at the chandeliers,
sip tilia tea as I fill the drawers of the tiny, ancient writing desk
with papers, books, travel treasures—
as if I would never leave.
I toss my yellow dress into the wash
tasting the rich flake of sea bass,
the oh-so light pique of vinagre blanco;
each waxy bite of boiled potato
brings me back to Portugal.
Quincy Gray McMichael
When not at her writing desk, Quincy Gray McMichael stewards her farm, Vernal Vibe Rise, on Moneton ancestral land. Her writing—both creative nonfiction and poetry—has appeared in Salon, Assay, Appalachian Review, Yes! Magazine, Burningword, and The Dewdrop, among others. Quincy holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University. She is a recent Pushcart Prize nominee, serves as Contributing Editor at Good River Review, and is completing a hybrid memoir that explores obsession and overwork through a blend of poetry and prose. Twitter: @quincy_gray_mcm | IG: @vernal_vibe_rise