Nani, 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 albóndigas. 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. - Alberto Rios