During the fall of 2015, I worked in an artist residency at Largo das Artes in Rio de Janeiro, and I would often stop to talk with Carlos, a man who sold kitchen tools from a streetside stand outside my studio in Rio de Janeiro. One day, while I examined his potato masher, he noticed my embroidered poem stretched over a hoop and sticking out of my bag. He urged me to meet Marcia.
Marcia Rodrigues Braga crocheted bikinis in the stand next to Carlos, where she also sold hats and bags. I returned to meet Marcia, and she pulled out a long golden needle. This was her method of embroidery, a beautiful method of pushing the needle through the fabric, creating stitches on one side and loops on the other. She insisted I practice, and gifted me with the needle.
The golden needle was the first of many gifts.
Often I would see Carlos alone, watching both their stands, and he would suggest that there would be a particular reason for me to return and see Marcia. Indeed, at night, at home, Marcia embroidered me a golden petaled, purple centered flower on yellow cloth. When she presented it to me, she suggested I embroider a poem on it. A poem!
I wrote that poem, embroidering it on a large cloth, pale purple on cream Brazillian cotton. When I presented it to Marcia, people gathered on the street to read it, nodding in appreciation that she was the recipient of an ode.
That was in December, and a few days later, the day I was flying home, I stopped by to say my farewells to Marcia. This time, she had made me a scarf, concerned that I was leaving the summer of Rio for the winter of Oregon. Indeed, the morning was cold when the plane landed in Portland, and the scarf kept me warm.