Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, & My Mother
Rita Magdaleno was born near Dachau shortly after World War II to a German mother and a Mexican American GI. Her family moved to Arizona in 1947, and Rita was raised with her father's traditions—but she remains at heart a child of two cultures.
This poetic memoir, recalling Magdaleno's return to the land of her birth, is an intertwining of personal and public history, bridging continents and cultures in search of family secrets. Her poems recall a mother "Marlene Dietrich pretty, / her smoky voice / & those wide Aryan / eyes that promised / never to lie," a war bride who named her child after a Hollywood movie star even before casting eyes on America. They also offer a new, intimate view of the war—and of today's reunified Germany—and show that the consequences of events played out half a century ago continue to resonate with the children of that era.
Magdaleno navigates currents of emotion that would drown less capable poets. With patience, courage, and abiding love, she draws on memories of mother and motherland to show us that healing can come in many forms.