Guac and chips on the kitchen table,
salsa and humus.
Grandes sobrinas chase their children and their dogs
down the endless halls.
Wasn’t there a cat once?
Tia shuffles through the busy kitchen,
inspects the rellenos and posole,
reaches for a baby and is told to sit.
“But I only want to hold the baby, why must I sit?”
“Because you are old.”
Me? No! That can’t have happened.
Her oldest niece is angry.
“Que?” asks Tia Leica, the Innocent.
“You said my rellenos aren’t as plumb as the ones mother made.”
I did not say that aloud. My thoughts are escaping!
I must be careful not to think in this my niece’s house,
where I must live.
Roberto is hungry and hung over.
“I thought dinner was at 3,” he says,“that’s what mother promised.”
Tia is hungry too but the baby cries for the breast.
“We will eat,” her niece promises, “after Margarita feeds the baby.”
“Where are my other nieces?”
“Rosie is coming.”
“You must not speak of Angela.
She does nothing for you.”
This is too confusing. I will go to my bedroom to sleep.
“Stop Tia. You must sit at the head of the table. It is your birthday!”
the man of the house orders.
The bowl of posole awaiting her has no ox bones.
Her niece has hoarded them all.
Do not think this bad thought.
A grand nephew sits to her left,
her grand niece to her right.
They are so serious.
“Tia Leica, do you want some onions in your posole?”
“Tia Leica, how about some beans and rice?”
She used to play with them,
because she was one of them,
a child in a house of adults.
they are so serious,
treating her like she will break.
The noise is unbearable,
Every where, chatter.
The toddlers, now free from their seats,
run rings around the table,
the dogs scrounge at dirty feet.
Rosie finally appears looking weary
“Angela made these for you,” she reports, setting two cakes on the table..
“Where is she?”
“Tia, we do not speak of Angela…” the man of the house says.
Tia remembers her nieces growing up,
always at each other’s throats but together.
Now her sister is gone and
she must live with her oldest niece,
where no one speaks of Angela.
One of the cakes has frosting, the other is plain.
“Which one do you want Tia?” A grand niece asks.
Tia points to the one with frosting.
“But Tia,” Rosie says, “you told Angela you don’t like frosting.
That’s why she made two cakes.”
Don’t like frosting? Never. That was not my thought.
From Writing for the Absent Reader. Available on Amazon