“one-bedroom solo: An interview with Sheila Maldonado” by Ae Hee Lee
Introduction by Professor Matthew J. Burgess during reading/visit to his class,
English 3304/5 Writing Poetry:
“It’s the best when I get a good
drop, the package tumbles
from the slot so clean, not one flake
flakes, the crust doesn’t crumble.
I get to break up that tart,
still intact, truly appreciate
the dextrose, the soy lecithin, the
sodium acid pyrophosphate.
That’s my shit right now, boy
I can’t be on the same shit
always, gotta diversify,
entertain the palate.”
(from “Baked Good”)
A poem this seemingly casual disguises its formal perfection—the enjambment of “good / drop”, the delicate play of consonant t-sounds in the description of the breaking of the tart, the just right balance between concision and conversation.
For me, Sheila is a Latina reincarnation of William Carlos Williams. Like the great poet-doctor, she walks around with her eyes open and shows us that so much depends upon “one grandmother push[ing] / a petite electric blue cart / lined with a woven plastic / plaid shopping bag.” And like “Danse Russe,” Williams’s meditation on dancing naked in front of the mirror while the rest of the family is asleep, Maldonado similarly rejects the fictions of maturity. To be grown-up is great not because you cease being a child, but because you can be a kid in your own damn space. In “Homebody,” she writes: “I got this place so I could be naked, / lotion up after a shower, no rush” and later, “I’m my own child here, dancing bare-ass nekkid, / don’t care if the neighbors see a rush of / skin from their window, my body taking off.” Ultimately, I read one-bedroom solo as a funny, sexy, anxious yet self-assured declaration of independence.