A Note from Mel

Make the connection…

Abuela May 27, 2009

Abuela

By Marlene Hawthrone-Thomas

 

It was you who first split my tongue

Blew smells of el campo into my nostrils

Pupusa, arroz con frijoles,

pepino, calabacín, elote, zanahoria, nopalito

Sopa de pescado, el gran ojo mirandome

Swimming among alphabet pasta

 

Me he despertado unas mañanas

Las mejillas mojadas con lástimas

Pensando que me ha dejado

 

Tortillas resting oiled griddle form burn birthmarks

like liver spots adorning your hands

flattening that very maseca into perfection

 

Tamed abursho into escova, then trenzas

Delantal catching my tears as the

comb wove its way through my tangles

me wondering

why my hair could not flow

like your silver river

 

Me he despertado unas mañanas

Las mejillas mojadas con lástimas

Pensando que me ha dejado

 

Radio Ah-Eh-meh 640 crackling

Alabanzas warbling from your throat

Smelling of Lísterina, that’s how I thought

God smelled

 

You affixing a velo on my head,

Bobby pins resting on the shelf of your pursed lips

Entrusting me with a pandereta during worship hour

 

Translating in the grocery store, 5 and on tiptoe

holding fast to check writing stand

Making eye contact with the cashier

Mama Angelica, el cajero necesita veinte centavos

 

Isopropyl alcohol sweating your wrinkled belly

Worn from births, soft like velvet

Into it you sank insulin needles

I mirrored your wincing

 

The blood teardrop leaking onto the test paper

 

How I’ve inherited the shape of your fingers

And toes

and love for sweets

and heavy shuffle

Con o sin chancleta

 

Me he despertado unas mañanas

Las mejillas mojadas con lástimas

Pensando que me ha dejado

 

Mami says you have fallen

And your old bones cannot knit themselves well

You have refused food and drink

And I refuse to see you this way

 

Me he despertado unas mañanas

Las mejillas mojadas con lástimas

Pensando que me ha dejado

 

But I know it’s your mouth

forming besos instead.

 

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