April 2014

Abuela

I heard the news
Late night phone call on the side of the road
They hadn’t made it in time.
Arms around each other at 2 am, crying, frustrated of the senseless way
Death comes with half a tank of gas and not enough time.

My heart was filled with the patterns
of your dresses, Olive green, pinks and browns.
your worn shoes that walked the earth of Edinburg, Texas, for 97 years,
and silk stockings hanging over the shower curtain.

Paper skin thin with roadmaps of wrinkles with those stories we’d stay up
For hours past bedtime just to hear.
The way you drove a truck to deliver goods when driving wasn’t lady like.
The picture of you in your youth with knee high boots with a million buttons and hooks
Hair in pin curls and flower on your dress.
Meeting grandpa for the first time.
Living in ‘el tulle’ which really meant living in huts with dirt floors and straw roofs.
Witnessing the revolution as a young child, Zapata on majestic horseback
And so much more..
My soul aches for the valley, its hot nights and chattering cicadas
And crazy messenger lizards scattering on your doorstep.
Straw broom leaning on your hip, hand sewn apron with morning tortilla flour
Late nights on roll away beds
sleeping in one of your flimsy slips,
your feet
small
and knotted with arthritis
you rubbed with aicete de olivo
and placed carefully in small
battered house shoes.
black bobby pins
in your thin silver hair,
Falling away pinch by pinch into a crystal bowl at your bedside
Next to your
your watch on a chain
the one you held to my ear
as you rocked me to sleep on your polyester lap.
pan de polvo
with milk drank out of jelly jars,
and our favorite gorditas de azucar
crisping on a black comal
your magical heat and
needlepoint resistant fingers
creating tapestries out of thread and yarn
and cast away swatches of fabric
Eggs de cascarón by the carton full every easter
Carefully painted with joy and so much love I almost hated cracking them
Hand cut confetti falling into our brown hair, my Abuela the
great teacher of impermanence!
I drank Gallons of lifetimes in your sweet tea
I ate bowlfuls of knowledge in your magical sopas de fideo

I dreamt multiple lives in the afternoon naps in your quilted bed
in the long
hot
south Texas afternoons.
the laughter
the laughter of Elisa Lopez
still bubbles
and chatters with comadres
over café con leche
and pan caliente
at the great table of her Lord and Savior now
Where all the great abuelas meet,
Happy,
Blessed
and complete.

—Opalina Salas

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