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This River Here: Poems of San Antonio


Feeding You

I have slipped chile under your skin
           secretly wrapped in each enchilada
           hot and soothing
           carefully cut into bitefuls for you as a toddler
           increasing in power and intensity as you grew 
           until it could burn

           silently spiced into the rice
           soaked into the bean caldo
           smoothed into the avocado

           I have slipped chile under your skin
           drop by fiery drop
           until it ignited 
           the sunaltar fire
           in your blood

I have squeezed cilantro into the breast milk
          made sure you were nurtured with 
          the clean taste of corn stalks
          with the wildness of thick leaves
          of untamed monte
          of unscheduled growth

I have ground the earth of these Américas in my molcajete
until it became a fine and piquant spice
           sprinkled it surely into each spoonful of food
           that would have to expand to fit your soul

Dear Mijo, Dear Mija,
Dear Corn Chile Cilantro Mijos
is your herencia
is what is yours
is what your mother fed you 
to keep you

(This poem first published in Yapanchitra,Calcutta, India, 2006, by Carmen Tafolla)

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