Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

For information about listening to Vermont Public Radio, please go here.

Young Writers Project: Porcelain Sugar

Alexandra Contreras-Montesano is this week's Young Writers Project author.

Alexandra Contreras-Montesano, an eighth grade student at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington, was inspired to write this poem at a workshop by poet Leland Kinsey at Young Writers Project’s annual Celebration of Writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts on Nov. 8. Alexandra says the poem is about her grandmother in Mexico, “and the first time I ever tasted sugar, when I was 5.”

Porcelain Sugar
By Alexandra Contreras-Montesano
Grade Eight, Edmunds Middle School

My abuela looked weathered by the time she shut the door.
Her hands were dry and her eyes were drooping.
We went to the same restaurant every month,
and every time I begged her to put on her porcelain blue dress,
for I longed to smooth it under my fingers.
Today she smiled gently before patting my hair back.
We walked on the dirt road to the bus stop.
My mother waited there,
waving to my abuelita as we strode closer,
my grandmother walking tiredly as I dragged her hand to follow me.
Ita, as I called her,
kissed my mom’s cheek and we returned to time as the dirty wind from the bus captured us.
It was then,
in the quietness of the bus, when I noticed my abuela had not worn her
porcelain blue dress.
My mother's arm sneaked around my shoulders and I knelt into the warm of
both women.
It seemed many times passed before the bus found our restaurant.
I scampered down the steps as my mother and my abuela
followed, laughing because I clutched their hands,
forcing them to feel my excitement.
The booth was green, and small picks in the leather grabbed my fingers.
The waiter had not come yet and I watched the packets on the table;
they were white and light blue.
My mother
waved off her hat and fanned her eyes as the heat set in.
She left to go to the bathroom, 
leaving her presence clinging to my abuela and me.
My abuela breathed out and I caught a wind of her corn tortillas. 
My body was little and it curved to surround hers,
as she knelt into me, leaving a heavy kiss on my forehead.
She took a packet from the center of the table
and ripped it down the middle.
That was when a glimmer of her old self pushed through her tired eyes.
Thin white grains sprayed the table.
The packet, porcelain blue and empty, lay ripped.
"Come, nina,"
she urged me.
I dipped a finger into the soft pile and licked it.
A strange sweetness left me giddy,
and I opened my eyes to meet her laughing ones.
By the time my mother returned I was taking big licks off the table.
My mother’s face folded and she tried to say something.
My abuela just smiled and said,
"She needed to taste the sweetness."

Learn more about the Young Writers Project.

Latest Stories