and andre's grandma


by Andre De Leon

Abuelita in the kitchen with her skin like wet sand

Covered in skin tags like teabags soaking in her sweat

Her dish soap damaged hands holding a knife, chopping cilantro rhythmically.

Abuelita with ojos de caramelo and wrinkled from old jokes

stands in front of a tall bronze pot filled to the brim with pozole

occasionally spilling over like tears after some salsa cabrona.

Abuelita in the kitchen slaving herself away to keep us all plump and happy

Her heart as sweet as cooking chocolate,

Her spirit as spicy as burnt chiles,

Her laughter as lingering as the taste of menudo,

Her words as soft as avocado,

Her love as permanent as the magenta stains from a juicy beet.

Abuelita has had experiences, tart, like a good ceviché.

Abuelita wears her smile often like an ear of corn.

Abuelita has sayings, dichos, that pour from her throat like lime juice from a juicer.

Abuelita has stories to tell that float in her mind like frijoles de olla.

Abuelita tells the tale of how she met grandpa

How there were butterflies and sugar lips

How there were hairlines and smaller hips

How grandpa married her for her cooking

“The fastest way to a man’s heart is his stomach.” she says

And although she displays a grin,

I know she regrets ever touching the stove

that touched his heart.

Abuelita in the kitchen, enslaved to a culture

Where a man’s hunger is the fastest way to a broken heart

Where the only thing she feeds is his machismo

Where if there’s too much spice in life, you can’t dab it off,

you just eat it and cry.

Abuelita in the kitchen with pots and pans

like chains on her hands

With burned fingers like charred meats

With sweat drops like salt crystals

With years of cooking, only to taste his pride.