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The Famous Umbrella of Madeira

a tantalizing shape  
over there 
under the bananas
an umbrella 
we crane our necks
peering through the bus windows
a stone monument
a domestic relic,  
fallen from pride of place
protection, generosity, a metaphor
for all homes, come enter under the
what a lovely symbol a
tradition of this ancient place

will we find miniature
umbrellas in the 
gift store down the road
perhaps a post card
explaining the legend of the umbrella
or an old song about family
the sun’s glare 
the weeping sky
a poster featuring
lithesome natives
brandishing unfurled umbrellas
aprons, towels and toothpick holders
scalloped - painted handles.   
tee shirts in classic umbrella colors
or flag colors of the conquering country.
ah, the umbrella
the guide cranes her head to where we point
that is just trash.   

Inspiration:  An umbrella and a long bus ride

This poem came from a bus ride up to the top cool peak of Madeira, an island off the coast of Portugal.  It serves as the British and German Hawaii.  Come down for a week to your timeshare, acquire a horribly painful looking sunburn on purpose and fly home. I was there for just a few days.  I did not get sunburned.  

After a week or so traveling through a foreign country,  you start to get a little bleary. Whatever a guide says, you just believe because it’s easier than asking questions or once again experiencing the frustration of a single bar on your phone and even if you could get a signal the overseas data plan is rapidly draining towards ruinous additional fees.  Even a facebook post costs enormous amounts of data allotment.

Which by the time we post this may be changing. I hope so.

With 10% left on the battery, and even though a  Google search would deliver critical clarification, it is too much hassle. 

So you just believe.  

It’s easier.


Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach and author. She has published over 300 newspaper and magazine articles in publications like Modern Maturity (AARP), SF Chronicle and Santa Rosa Magazine. She was a contributor to two Chicken Soup Books and has published anthologies of her work, non-fiction works and novels. Her work has also appeared in a number of poetry and fiction anthologies. She has experimented with the self-publishing world since 2001. She has published and self-published seven books through companies like Author House, author assist companies like 3L Publishing and through traditional publishers like Write Life. Her poetry collection, Ammonia Sunrise, will be released in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press and her mystery novel, In Good Faith will be released by Write Life in 2011. Catharine holds a BA in English from UCSB and a MA in English from Sonoma State University. She is a 25 year member of California Writer’s Club. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Phoenix. She works with authors of both fiction and non-fiction to make their dream of producing a book come true. For more information on that, visit her at Catharine has lived in Sonoma County for 25 years and considers wine a food group. She is married to an adorable and very patient man who complains he’s never featured in any of her books. Her grown children who are featured in a few of her books have fled the county.

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