Art of the Week (At Repose with Mitsy) and Poem of the Week (Cuba)

Art of the Week

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At Repose with Mitsy E. Marie Francis Vero Beach Branch, FL Acrylic
At Repose with Mitsy
E. Marie Francis
Vero Beach Branch, FL

Poem of the Week


Amalia, but we called her Molly
The first and only Cuban I have known
She was orphaned when
Her parents died in a train wreck
She and her brother were raised by the nuns and brothers
The children were not permitted to see each other for a year
Thinking that would allow their unspeakable loss to heal
Like an unpicked scab
Her family name, unknown to me, had stature but no money, she said
Molly married a US navy man and left the island by twenty
Castro’s revolution was on its way
In the United States the soap operas taught her English
An economics course taught her capitalism
Amalia transformed herself into Molly
We met when teachers at a Catholic School
She taught Spanish; I taught English
I was a twenty-seven year old ex-nun fresh from the convent
Molly was a thirty-seven year old with a master’s degree in psychology
She became my counselor ex-officio
Molly transformed me.
She was outgoing and fun
She gave me permission to shake off the habits of my old life
And embrace my new life with gusto
Just as she had done for herself.
We partied with faculty and attended weddings together
We went for dinner and drinks often
One night she let down her guard
Her brother was waiting for his son’s release
He’d been imprisoned for handing out anti-Castro pamphlets on a street corner
They’d cross the Straits when the boat of opportunity sailed
As soon as her words dropped from her lips
Panic set in
Now, she had to trust me with her secret
I never spoke a word; not even to ask the outcome
Molly divorced and I married; our friendship suffered
I moved hundreds of miles away, we lost touch
But thirty years later, I wanted to mend the rift
The internet quickly gave up Amalia’s address
A letter came back
My opportunity had sailed a year too late
In 2003 Molly had died.

Descansa en paz, Amalia. Descansa en paz.

by Susan Bassler Pickford
Member at large


  1. Susan, I just wrote you about your grabbing poem, but I could find no way to forward it. I shall start again. Your story is real and sad, sad, sad, starting with the separation of the brother and sister for a year to ‘help’ their grief. As your poem enfolds, including a world of history and disturbing politics, friendship is a major part of life and, when possible, it is important to keep our friendships current. You, of course, know what you wrote and experienced so vividly; I just wanted you to know how your words affected and affect me. Thank you for your skill in writing and sharing it with so many of us. Lois p.s. “Rest In Peace” is well-needed, well-deserved as in lives like Molly’s, and well-said.

  2. E. Marie, your art work is stunning. Artists hear this a lot, I know: “I am not an artist” or “I know nothing about art..” This is true in my case, but I love the overall effect, the play of all the lines and patterns flowing into (or out from!) the woman and cat. One would want to enjoy this painting time and again, and that’s what’s great about art, we can! Thank you, very. Lois

  3. I wanted to send a comment on this powerful poem. I have written my comments twice, and twice they have disappeared. A powerful poem with so many directions to ponder. So rich.

    • NLAPW says:

      Hi, Mary Lou,
      They are approved now, so should appear! Sorry for the delay, I was on the longest flight on the planet (literally, not figuratively) from Sydney to Dallas. I certainly agree about this poem!!

  4. This poem contains several directions to ponder. First, a former nun who left the convent. Second, the beginning of a new life. Third, the idea of someone who could give another permission to begin again..
    Fourth, trustworthiness. Fifth, mending a rift. This powerful poem will stay with me. It makes me think about my own life, my own directions. Congratulations, Susan Bassier Pickford.

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