Fall 1988 • Vol. X No. 4 Poetry |

Learning to Walk Alone

from Penelope's Journal Today I followed my servant, Hestia, down the dusty path that leads away from the sea. Trudging towards the barren hills that separate my house from her world, her stiff back told me that a woman walking home after a day of laboring over someone else's hearth had nothing to share with a fortunate fool strolling in the heat of late afternoon for pleasure.         As we approached the last clump of trees huddled together like beggars at the edge of the village, I gave up the contest of wills. I followed Hestia's brown form with my eyes, as she descended into a marketplace filled with hagglers, stray dogs, and flies, until she became part of the crowd.     I stood there with my arms around a thin old tree for a long time, listening to the sounds of words I could not decipher, the empty cadences of far-away voices rising and falling.               Without you, Odysseus, I have come to hate living on this i

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Judith Ortiz Cofer is an award-winning author known for her stories about coming-of-age experiences in the barrio and her writings about the cultural conflicts of immigrants. She is the author of many distinguished titles for young adults such as Call Me Maria, The Meaning of Conseulo, Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood, and The Line in the Sun. She lives in Georgia where she is the Regents’ and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.

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