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In the Discount Lot

Angie Trudell Vasquez
Outside the grocery store
laden with the sweat

of tanned field workers
we stand      little girls in winter coats
our hands hold signs leaflets
our dark long hair waist length
one straight, one curly
we say to the people
who walk up to the glass door

don’t buy the lettuce here—
they aren’t good to their workers

I don’t recall anyone
said anything back
or who stood with us
I remember my sister
next to me,      us
in our Sunday velvet best
she      beret and red plaid jacket
me      white rabbit skin muff
little brown girls with picket signs
rosy cheeks, big black eyes
legions of ghosts
above      behind
angels wing over us
ancestor feathers beat
in the invisible breeze
each time someone enters
or exits the building—
with a bag
full of groceries
oranges and eggs
celery and grapes.
Madison Poet Laureate, Madison Public Library Poet-in-Residence
Why I chose this poem: 

This is one of my earliest memories and in many ways made me who I am today as a poet and human being. This is also one of my current favorite poems and I was so pleased to have it appear nationally on Poem-A-Day. Last weekend, I led a poetry workshop for teens for Write On, Door County’s first Youth Writers Conference in Sturgeon Bay, and the prompt was write your first, or one of your earliest memories. It feels appropriate to start here with this poem.

Angie Trudell Vasquez is the current poet laureate of Madison, Wisconsin (2020-2024). She holds an MFA in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Finishing Line Press published her collections, In Light, Always Light, in May 2019, and My People Redux, in January 2022. In 2021, she attended the Macondo Writers Workshop started by Sandra Cisneros, and became a fellow, also known as a Macondista. She co-edited the anthology, Through This Door: Wisconsin in Poems, with Margeret Rozga in 2020, and released it through her small press Art Night Books.


Angie Trudell Vasquez