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Cocina Crossing

I. I called my dad for the rest of the story

        in mid-spring chuckwalla

lizards shed skin and stories

told in halves are reborn 

as: nana migrated up thru the north,

el paso or maybe further east

        somehow,

with a sprig of thyme for courage

       and a spine of aloe vera for protection

on a dusty road outside mexico city

       rebeca hitches a ride with a traveling

       doctor and rides thru the coahuila desert

       straight to the u.s. border

or she walks from pueblo to pueblo,

       cooks thru the homes of midwives,

       farmers, hacendados and bandits

          she ends up in louisiana, el bosque bayou:

mujer de méxico – no hablaba ingles  

trabajando en una cocina francés 

dad dijo:

my nana was a curandera

de la cocina

       she just had to stick her finger in 

the pot 

       and stir. 

II. nana breaks bread with canal coyotes

bargains her passage from a man with

conch shell teeth, gold eyes inlaid in

mother-of-pearl and skin mosaic of

jade stone – river rat who steers the

chalupa down xochimilco, lake valley

of the old spirits

nana trades her best wooden spoon,

chile chapulines – picante pero sabroso,

romero stems bathed under the glow

of a harvest moon and her grandmother’s

rebozo, silk wool sueño spun con amor

III. I heard a family story, once,

a legend como la leyenda de la llorona

about a woman who left her home

una mujer who lost her familia

traveled a long road over desert sand

skillet sizzle and blessed yerba

a few differences between my nana

y la llorona: she never lost her

children, never had a man as far as I

know (I didn’t hear the whole cuento

so I can’t say for sure) migrating

foot by foot, she cooked her way through

méxico, tossed corn with four star

chefs, learned a few tricks of a trade

and prayed with salamanders for a desert

wind to carry her across the río grande


Antonia Silva is a queer Mexican-American poet from Santa Ana, California with a B.A. in English from Reed College. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon where she works at Poompui, a Thai food truck. Her work is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine.