Mexican Almuerzo in New England
for M.G.

Word is praise for Marina, up past 3:00 a.m. the night before her flight,
preparing and packing the platos tradicionales she’s now heating up in
the oven while the tortillas steam like full moons on the stovetop.  Dish
by dish she tries to recreate Mexico in her son’s New England kitchen,
taste-testing el mole from the pot, stirring everything:  el chorizo-con-papas,
el picadillo, el guacamole.  The spirals of her stirs match the spirals in her
eyes, the scented steam coils around her like incense, suffusing the air
with her folklore.  She loves Alfredo, as she loves all her sons, as she
loves all things: seashells, cacti, plumes, artichokes.  Her hand calls us to
circle around the kitchen island, where she demonstrates how to fold
tacos for the gringo guests, explaining what is hot and what is not, trying
to describe tastes with English words she cannot savor.  As we eat, she
apologizes:  not as good as at home, pero bueno… It is the best she can do
in this strange kitchen which Sele has tried to disguise with papel picado
banners of colored tissue paper displaying our names in piñata pink,
maíz yellow, and Guadalupe green—strung across the lintels of the patio
filled with talk of an early spring and do you remembers that leave an
after-taste even the flan and café negro don’t cleanse.  Marina has finished.
She sleeps in the guest room while Alfredo’s paintings confess in the
living room, while the papier-mâché skeletons giggle on the shelves,
and shadows lean on the porch with rain about to fall.  Tomorrow our
names will come down and Marina will leave with her empty clay pots,
feeling as she feels all things: velvet, branches, honey, stones.  Feeling what
we all feel: home is a forgotten recipe, a spice we can find nowhere, a
taste we can never reproduce, exactly.

No More Than This, Provincetown

Today, home is a cottage with morning
in the yawn of an open window.  I watch
the crescent moon, like a wind-blown sail,
vanish.  Blue slowly fills the sky and light
regains the trust of wildflowers blooming
with fresh spider webs spun stem to stem.
The room rises with the toasting of bread,
a stick of butter puddling in a dish, a knife
at rest, burgundy apples ready to be halved,
a pint of blueberries bleeding on the counter,
and a little more than this.  A nail in the wall
with a pair of disembodied jeans, a red jersey,
and shoes embossed by the bones of my feet
and years of walking.  I sit down to breakfast
over the nicks of a pinewood table and I am,
for a moment, not afraid of being no more
than what I hear and see, no more than this:
the echo of bird songs filling an empty vase,
the shadow of a sparrow moving through
the shadow of a tree, disturbing nothing.