Author: Ruben Quesada
Ruben Quesada is the editor of a hybrid collection, Latinx Poetics: Essays on the Art of Poetry. He is the author of Revelations and Next Extinct Mammal: Poems. His writing appears in The New York Times, Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, Kirkus Review, and Harvard Review. He has served as an editor for AGNI, PANK, The Rumpus, and Pleiades and as a poetry blogger for The Kenyon Review and Ploughshares. He teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Antioch University-Los Angeles and for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.
About Jane / La Segua
This project reinvents two colonial myths rooted in racism and class from Costa Rica. The legends of La Segua and Los Cadejos were created to discourage early settlers from racial mixing. La Segua is a cursed woman, and Los Cadejos are ghosts or spirits attributed to following some people to scare or kidnap them.
This collection reimagines the myth. Now set in the late 20th century, this collection follows a woman named Jane, a flight attendant. We meet Jane throughout her life. These poems are fablelike in their manner and style to reveal layers of harassment and abuse to comment on the legacy of the 1950s oppression of women in the United States and what it meant for women to re-enter the workforce decades after. This is a morality tale about desire and fate.
A divorced woman rich with misfortune
robed in silvery rococo silk stands
when from behind a darkling vine through the Rose
of Sharon Bushes, an eagle’s talon dives down.
Rings of gold cover her
bitter, withered hand.
Winter has peaked
for most of the year.
She goes afloat
when grasped by the throat
a cockring behind.
She awakens in a forest and walks up to a chorus
of schoolchildren holding sheet music. From the trees
fall musical notes—sixteenth, eighth, but nothing
whole. Now she takes a stroll down Rodeo Drive.
Her hair is done up into a hive like Brigitte Bardot,
she wears a mink stole draped over her shoulders.
From the Hollywood Hills, rows of boulders bulldoze
the Drive into Lacoste, Dior, and Balenciaga shops.
Down the street, a young woman drops to her knees
after being asked to leave one of the stores. She needed
a dress. She’s a mess. Listen to the shopkeeper
squeal. She stands in the street. Jane opens her eyes
as the captain announces, welcome to these friendly skies.
While applying lotion
upon her knees
we heard of Jane’s time
in the 1980s.
She was hired
when Reagan was elected
and Mary Lou Retton
was selected to appear
on the box of Wheaties.
Back then, she said,
there were so many men,
sex and drugs in every town,
but that time is gone.
It was a wild time,
she went on
and started to blush,
letting out a sigh
as the pilot walked by.
at each other
a flirtatious dance.
I got back to work
and from the corner
of my eye I saw
Jane hunched over
having a good cry.