Monday, 7 June 2021

On the Train to Vigo    

by Nina Rubinstein Alonso

Spanish children chewing bread and cheese
grandparents taking them somewhere 

sturdy people like short towers
holding the little ones in between

the conductor pats the boy on the head
lends him his clumsy man-sized cap

walks him grandly around the train
gives him an orange cotton scarf

brings him back holding his hand
calls him an excellent little man

the girl grips her grandmother’s arm
five years old already feeling how

to fold envy shrink it small
drop it into her secret well

we wonder if she’ll grow up wild
casting off traditional ways

or will she live in the usual style
favoring the male children

today there's little she can do
sadly jealous stubbornly proud

knowing she’s only a girl who must
wait pretending patience being good.

* * * * *

Nina Rubinstein Alonso’s work has appeared in Ploughshares, The New Yorker,
Ibbetson Street, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Peacock Journal, Muddy River Poetry Review, Southern Women’s Review
, etc.  Her book This Body was published by David Godine Press, her chapbook Riot Wake is upcoming from Červená Barva Press and a story collection is in the works.


  1. "sadly jealous stubbornly proud"

  2. Beautifully written, powerfully familiar. These dynamics are those of my family: five girls, one boy. We lived under different rules. We worked; he played. He grew up to be a jerk.