¿Cómo estás?

“And now? How are you? Is there also a membrane
in the volcano along which the tongue glides?…”

~ “Colombia,” Tomaž Šalamun

It is the fifth day of the new year. Considering everything else, we are fine. I think we are fine. But of course it will be better once I have coffee, or something hot. No, no, I don’t want cookies or chocolate. My tongue is always homesick for something savory, something piquant; the sour mixed with hot; or a bitter green. Fermented fish I once ate with a scoop of rice, as the rain flooded all the plants in pots on the balcony. An entire library of little bones that melted to paste in the cave of the mouth— I know I will never have that again. Years ago, hiking on volcano island, Aunt L showed me where the lava was thickest, flowing across the road. I smelled hard-boiled eggs, as we scanned the horizon for long-legged birds. She reminded me to put back the rust-colored stone I picked up, thinking to take a souvenir. No, no, she said, the gods of the islands punish for even lesser sins than that. I wonder what would have happened if I had disobeyed? A pebble that threatens to inspire the jealousy of the gods is so much more interesting than a macadamia nut enrobed in dark chocolate, or a piece of dried pineapple. Last night, G. called from the airport, coming back from Antigua; she gushed about the colors: gold of maize, magenta and eggplant on the skirts of worry dolls. Rows of women weaving in the markets— the babies they flipped nonchalantly into slings, into whose mouths they popped their gummy breasts. Were we ever like that when our children were little, she wanted to know; and how do they do it, as though it were no big deal to carry another life on your back?

 

In response to Via Negativa: Correspondence.

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