Poetry: Elegy for My Grandmother’s Rice

Full transcript of the piece is below

Elegy for My Grandmother’s Rice 
Even before you died I was afraid to lose it, the perfectly burnt rice caked  
into the soul of your pot. 
When my mother talks about you 
at Cuchifritos I watch her  

Grandma taught herself  
English with the newspaper
She loves you, because I have to 
be reminded of this. I choose to forget  

when my mother cried to me about what  
you did to her. At the restaurant my mother says the mofongo is missing garlic  
and I learn how to pronounce mofongo

We get four bowls of rice for two of us. 
I say the mofongo is cooked  
perfectly, and pick out the shrimp. 
The rice tastes like yours, so my mother cries. I feel nothing. What is a mother? The waitress  

understands, she has a mother. I cried 
when you passed because 
I woke up next to the dead body  

in your bed. You smoked pot to help with the cancer, and didn’t eat,  
refused to go to a hospital. 
What is a grandma? I can’t remember.  
Arroz con gandules, your bed,  

my mother’s stories, the kneading 
of bread,  your sickness growing  
you into a bone, the forgetting my 
name, the memories. ¿Qúien eres tu? 

The archetype of  
a grandmother is not love,  
it is a story. It is other people’s memories. 
It is the missing spaces filled with not  

It is warm rice 

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