Brown Azorean Girl

a poem by
SUSAN SHEPLER | Transformative Language Artist + Poet

My grandparents immigrated from the Azores (Portugal), and settled in Northern California.  My grandfather’s farm was in Edna Valley.  He was a dairy farmer. All of the references in this poem are true to facts.

Photo by Susan Shepler

I AM a brown Azorean girl with patched-up knees
on my blue jeans, a print blouse, and a ponytail
dangling pink ribbons.
I play hide-and-seek in haystacks and walnut trees.
I carry jars of raspberries from the cellar in sun streams.
Milk can tin men wink at me with shiny eyes,
waiting for a morning ride on the local co-op truck.  
I go to the antique store across the road and “don’t touch”
dusty shelves of colored glass, teacups and such.
Mainly, I go to see Sally in wide rimmed bonnets,
flowered clothes, and garden gloves.
The mission bells are ringing, as soft as baby baptisms.
I explore the creek, barefoot in polliwogs and watercress.
My heart breaks in thunder, and pours in rain.
Scents of rosemary revive me with herbal medicine.
I spread out on the wood plank porch with dolls and seaweed
drying for soup, being me, between sea salt and ocean breezes.
Grandma’s smile is an “Old Country” prayer, forever here,
a simple assurance everyday,
“Sometimes life is just this way.”

The antique shop that I refer to is now a tasting room, Sextant Winery (pictured).  Behind the antique shop was Sally’s house, which is now a cute B&B. Grandpa owned a lot of the land that is now part of the winery.  In fact, there is a memorial to my grandfather and grandmother in Edna.  Edna is roughly 5 miles from Pismo Beach, and 5 miles from the town of San Luis Obispo, CA.


Enjoy more of Susan’s work on her website,