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Archive for August, 2010

pa’ mi mami

.

The first guests, my godparents,

turn the corner to begin their walk

down the driveway,

.

          (50 feet of uneven pavement

                framed between

                     my parents’ home and

                the Chinese neighbors

                        who’ve thrown away

                            a grocery bag of garbage

                     every week for 20 years)

.

… a ceremonial walkway for the invited

.

the gate left open to let what used to be

          a flood of relatives through …

but we are older

          and have lost a few to the earth

and others to unresolved conflicts

.

               (Even today, on my mother’s 60th

                         a new injury will be born

                when my middle brother

                        fails to celebrate with us)

.

I could see now, clearly what we had become

          as my father greeted his compadre and comadre,

my youngest brother,

                        (a suit wearing executive during the week,

                        in his weekend barrio wear;

                        pressed khakis & ultra-brite white tee)

pulling green plastic chairs for them to sit.

.

My godparents are frail,

          like half the crowd who will come today,

guests with measured steps and canes,

          and more still that come locked in arms

with the same person I remember them with

          from my childhood.

.

The music, Ecuadorian ballads mixed with

          Puerto Rican merengue and other

tunes from the roots of our America

.

                        (that faraway south

                                  painted in greens and grays and decorated

                        with eyes and teeth that strike out

                                  like stars in the night sky; smiling mouths

                        stuffed with bacalao and ceviche

                                  and full of laughter and Spanish)

.

Here too, the food is ready,

          paid for by my brother,

prepared by memories of my mother and

           abuela in the kitchens of the past;

my hands mix the red cebollas

          and lemons and limes and

               cilantro into nearly everything.

Everywhere there is pepper and garlic

                        mixing into the smoke dancing

                                                from the three grills we have going.

.

We brought together again,

          those people we only see at funerals now,

to celebrate what they had started

          before we existed;

leaving their childhoods behind

          they ventured out of sand dunes

and into snowstorms, unheralded;

           they traded their tiempo, every last

minute measured by train tokens

          and time cards they punched;

measured by checks that paid them

          only for their output and

never considered what they were

          really giving back to the dream

that is this America.

.

They sat around now

          frail, but victorious,

eating gumbo and platanos,

          arroz y gandules, barbecued chicken

camarones, hot dogs and

          hamburgers, topped with

ketchup and salsa picante, listening

          to the sounds of the past

exploding today in celebraccion.

.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2010. All rights reserved.

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