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An Orchid-covered Kayak at Xochimilco

July 26, 2017


Preface to This Week’s Poem


During the summer of 1973, my sister and two of her friends enjoyed a trip to Europe.  Inspired by my sister’s adventures, I decided, after having taught for one school year, to plan a trip to another country–Mexico.  Although I was a “brave” twenty-three-year-old who initially expected to go on the tour alone, my older sister did accompany me for the holiday break spanning from the final week of 1973 to early 1974.  This trip marked my first travel by air and my only sojourn outside the United States.  I recall the two-week tour with fondness and appreciation for all that I experienced and learned.


Highlights of this tour of Mexico included the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts where we saw the Tiffany glass curtain, the Ballet Folklorico, and the art galleries), Basilica of Guadalupe, Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, Chapultepec Park, Alameda Park, El Zocalo (main plaza of Mexico City), the Anthropology Museum (where the Aztec calendar is displayed), and murals of Diego Rivera.  Outside the city, we visited Cuernavaca and the cobblestoned streets of Taxco.  Despite all the places of interest we toured, a mention of kayaks on Wisconsin Public Radio brought me back to Xochimilco, which inspired the poem at the end of this Wordwalk post.


Last evening, I shared this poem with one of my writers’ groups at our monthly critique session.  Our July session marked one year that the same five writers have gathered together to critique each other’s work.  Thanks to author and columnist Leonard Tuchyner who brought together are group of five writers!  Sharing suggestions, comments, and compliments about writing makes for a most interesting, inspirational, and educational evening.



An Orchid-covered Kayak


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



On Wisconsin Public Radio,

I hear of the popularity,

the abundance of kayaks

on the waterways of Wisconsin.


Away from radio waves

and waves of Lake Michigan,

my mind drifts

to memories of Mexico,

where, in 1973,

at the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco,

I saw a kayak for the first time.

Floating languidly along side

our most touristy of boats

was a kayak covered with beautiful orchids.

Paddling the kayak

and selling the orchids to the turistas

was  an elderly Mexican woman

with the posture of a queen.


Instead of purchasing an orchid,

I let my camera memorize the moment

for a highlight of my carousel slide show

of my trip to Mexico.


Today, as usual,

I tend to my front porch garden

and the garden

behind my townhouse;

but my summer recollections wander back

to the December of more than four decades ago,

to the blanket of orchids displayed atop a kayak

at the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco.



Whether through memories or miles, enjoy your travels this summer!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


July 26, 2017, Wednesday



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  1. Sue McKendry permalink

    Thanks for sharing this experience! I got a wonderful picture of the regal woman selling orchids, and I’m a little jealous about Diego Rivera’s murals, as I’m a fan of his art.

    • Sue–Thanks for your comment. If my memory is correct, we saw Diego Rivera murals at the National Palace and at the lobby of the first of two hotels where we stayed. While I distinctly remember staying the majority of the time at the Alameda Hotel (on La Avenida Juarez, I think the name of the first hotel was Del Prado.

      Enjoy the beautiful weather weekend that we have been promised–Alice and Willow

  2. mfanyo permalink

    Dear Alice,
    Thank you for reminding me of the colorful and interesting places we visited in Mexico! I also remember the beautiful, huge poinsettia plants that surrounded the Zocalo and were particularly festive at that time of year. What a memorable trip we had together south of the border and far from Indiana!
    Love to you and Willow,

    • Mary–Poinsettias were also plentiful along the banks of the canals of Xochimilco. Additionally, I recall that after all of the beautiful and sunny days in Mexico, we returned to an unusual fourteen inches of snow in Indiana. We should have all the slides of our trip placed on a DVD, with festive music in the background.

      Muchas gracias–Alice and Willow

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