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Although Tía Miriam boasted she discovered
the vast majority-a-dozen ways to use peanut butter–
topping for guava shells in syrup,
butter replacement for Cuban toast,
hair conditioner and relaxer–
Mamà never understood things to make
from the monthly five-pound jars
handed by the immigration department
until my pal, Shaun, pointed out jelly.
There is always pork though,
for each birthday and wedding,
whole ones on Christmas and New Year’s Eves,
even on Thanksgiving Day–pork,
fried, broiled or crispy skin roasted–
in addition to cauldrons of black beans,
fried plantain chips and yuca disadvantage mojito.
These products needed a unique visit
to Antonio’s Mercado on a corner of eighth street
where men in guayaberas was in senate
blaming Kennedy for everything–“Ese hijo de puta!”
the bile of Cuban coffee and cigar residue
filling the creases of the wrinkled lips
clinging to 1 another’s lies of lost wealth,
ashamed and empty as hollow trees.
By seven I’d grown suspicious–we remained as here.
Overheard conversations about coming back
had grown wistful and fewer frequent.
I spoke British my parents didn’t.
We didn’t reside in a two story house
having a maid or perhaps a wood panel station wagon
nor vacation camping in Colorado.
No women had hair of gold
none of my siblings or cousins
were named Greg, Peter, or Marsha
i was and not the Brady Bunch.
No black and white-colored figures
on D Reed or on Dick Van Dyke Show
were named Guadalupe, Lázaro, or Mercedes.
Patty Duke’s family wasn’t like us either–
they didn’t have pork on Thanksgiving,
they ate poultry with cranberry sauce
they didn’t have yuca, they’d yams
such as the dittos of Pilgrims I colored at school.
Per week before Thanksgiving
I described to my abuelita
concerning the Indians and also the Mayflower,
how Lincoln subsequently set the slaves free
I described to my parents about
the crimson mountain’s magnificence,
“one if by land, two if by sea”
the cherry tree, the tea party,
the amber waves of grain,
the “masses yearning to become free”
liberty and justice for those, until
finally they agreed:
this Thanksgiving we’d have poultry,
in addition to pork.
Abuelita prepared poor people fowl
as though committing an action of treason,
faking her enthusiasm in my sake.
Mamà set a frozen pumpkin cake within the oven
and eager candied yams following instructions
I converted in the marshmallow bag.
The table was arrayed with gladiolus,
the plattered poultry loomed in the center
on plastic silver from Woolworths.
Everybody sitting in eco-friendly velvet chairs
we’d upholstered with obvious vinyl,
except Tío Carlos and Toti, sitting down
within the folding chairs in the Salvation Army.
I uttered a bilingual blessing
and also the poultry was passed around
just like a bet on Russian Roulette.
“DRY”, Tío Berto complained, and began
to drown the lean slices with pork fat drippings
and cranberry jelly–“esa mierda roja,” he known as it.
Faces fell when Mamá presented her ochre pie–
pumpkin would be a home cure for ulcers, not really a dessert.
Tía María made three models of Cuban coffee
then abuelo and Pepe removed the family room furniture,
placed on a Celia Cruz LP and also the whole family
started to merengue within the linoleum in our apartment,
sweating rum and occasional until they remembered–
it had been 1970 and 46 degrees–
After repositioning the furnishings,
a suitable darkness filled the area.
Tío Berto was the final to depart.