Poetry: Elegy for My Grandmother’s Rice
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 and
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