The Firefly Letters

A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba

Margarita Engle

Henry Holt and Co.


Matanzas, Cuba
CECILIAI
I remember a wide river
and gray parrots with patches of red feathers
flashing across the African sky
like traveling stars
or Cuban fireflies.
In the silence of night
I still hear my mother wailing,
and I see my father’s eyes
refusing to meet mine.
I was eight, plenty old enough
to understand that my father was haggling
with a wandering slave trader,
agreeing to exchange me
for a stolen cow.
Spanish sea captains and Arab merchants
are not the only men
who think of girls
as livestock.
Excerpted from The Firefly Letters by .
Copyright © 2010 by Margarita Engle.
Published in 2010 by Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.