"I am the Resurrection and the Life..."   John 11:25





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The other day
while wandering in an old bookstore
I was aware of a smell in the air
that reminded me of my grandmother’s house.
The smell
that sweet and musty aroma
that filled every room.

The living room with the shades drawn tightly,
and tiny
crystal figures arranged
just so. The damp, cool
touch of everything.

I loved to lie there on the apple red sofa
with my eyes closed
to the small and hurried
steps of my grandmother
preparing this and that
in the kitchen.

Every now and then
I would hear her sigh
or mutter softly to herself
always an indication that
something was not to her satisfaction.

If I went in the kitchen
and offered my help
she would grant me a few jobs to do,
the peeling of the potatoes,
the kneading and massaging of the dough
for the empanadas.

We would work together quickly
my grandmother liked to get things done on time.
Before five, she would send me
down the street to the tienda
to buy milk, coffee, and raisins.

Ten minutes later
I would come through the door
and smell the steamy aromatic dishes
already set in the living room table.
My grandfather was always there
still groggy from his nap
ready to savor every scrumptious moment
of that Sunday afternoon.


Women dressed in stiff fashions
Exchange names, backgrounds, and telephone numbers
they pretend to admire Guayasamin paintings
arranged around the room as they sip
their teas and stir their cups of black,
turbid coffee. The furniture is white, smooth
like skin unexposed
to toil and effort.

Diplomats and officials
speed in air-conditioned Mercedes.
Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are served promptly at seven.
Unknown to them is the heat
of slow-moving hours.

As the sun sets in the distance,
the men and women feign interest in the night life
the dance floor creaks and groans.
Somehow within its beaten boards,
it endures
years of dance and perfumed promises.


The air smells of coffee
and bacon as I jog
down the windy, leaf-littered lane.
Here and there
I hear noises from inside doors,
the echo of voices,
the rumble of cold motors
being started.

As I jog, leaves crackle
beneath my Nikes, muscles
tighten and complain.
The wind
tosses wrinkled leaves
around me. And I think
of myself at a distance:
fists clenched, chest forward,
a moving dot in the horizon.


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