By Alberto Rios
Sitting at her table, she serves
the sopa de arroz to me
instinctively, and I watch her,
the absolute mamá, and eat words
I might have had to say more
out of embarrassment. To speak
now-foreign words I used to speak,
too, dribble down her mouth as she serves
me albondigas. No more
than a third are easy to me.
By the stove she does something with words
and looks at me only with her
back. I am full. I tell her
I taste the mint, and watch her speak
smiles at the stove. All my words
make her smile. Nani never serves
herself, she only watches me
with her skin, her hair. I ask for more.
I watch the mamá warming more
tortillas for me. I watch her
fingers in the flame for me.
Near her mouth, I see a wrinkle speak
of a man whose body serves
the ants like she serves me, then more words
from more wrinkles about children, words
about this and that, flowing more
easily from these other mouths. Each serves
as a tremendous string around her,
holding her together. They speak
Nani was this and that to me
and I wonder just how much of me
will die with her, what were the words
I could have been, was. Her insides speak
through a hundred wrinkles, now, more
than she can bear, steel around her,
shouting, then, What is this thing she serves?
She asks me if I want more.
I own no words to stop her.
Even before I speak, she serves.
The protagonist in this poem is reminiscing about his childhood memories with his old grandmother at the specific scene ; at his grandmother's kitchen. The protagonist seems he is no longer able to understand or speak the language that he used to speak when he was younger. Through this poem, the grandmother serves him food like Mexican-style 'rice soup' and meatballs as she is talking to him. She then back to the stove and her back is facing towards her grandchild. The protagonist then compliment his grandmother and it makes the old lady smile.
His grandmother cooks and serves only for her grandchild. She do not eat and cook for herself. She speaks with the intonation and emotion, this can be seen through the wrinkles around her mouth on her face. She talks about her children and her experiences in her life which shape her and keep her strong. From this poem, the poet describe the grandmother is very old.
Well, the 'To speak now-foreign words I used to speak' line imply that the protagonist has grown up so much from the time the poem scene takes place. The protagonist maybe didn't use anymore the language that he and his grandmother used to use to communicate to each other. So, for now he hardly remember and understand the language. The line of 'I see a wrinkle speak of a man whose body serves the ants like she serves me' shows the wisdom of the grandmother. She faithfully serves her grandchild with care and love. She do not even serve herself and she do not eat her cooking. All she wants to do is to treat her grandchild nicely on the table at the kitchen.
Next, the grandmother learns from her life experiences to be someone strong nowadays. That valuable experiences taught and shape who is she. This can be seen in 'Each serves as a tremendous string around her, holding her together'. The main character in this poem wonders how much he meant to his grandmother when she dies through this line 'and I wonder just how much of me will die with her'. The poet use the alteration method in this line.
In my opinion, this is really a beautiful poem and I can feel myself relates to this. My grandmother still alive today and I do love her so much. Whenever I come to visit her, she will ask me to stay still and she serve a variety of foods on the table. She will tell many stories about her life, what is happening around her and she will ask the same thing for me. She treats me very nice and she does not even let me help her in the kitchen. I can see she is proud with herself when she can serve and treat her children well. This can be seen clearly when she smiles after our stomach full with her delicious cooking.
So, the question that raise up in myself when I read this poem is, does the poet miss his dearly grandmother when he write this poem? And what makes him get inspired to do this poem?