I should have learned to cook,
growing up in a house
where Gipsy Kings and Leonard Cohen echoed through the kitchen
and into cauldrons of soup
and crab
and pans of pasta
serving as the spice through which I’d remember what escaliabada was.

Maybe the fans above our oven could have taught me,
exhaling their heavy chorus
as I’d slip barefoot through our kitchen
sticking to the tile floor
Or maybe
I could have found the secret
hidden in the bread,
yawning out ancient recipes
as I stretched it open with a crackling whisper
I knew it could see the end of the world–

But I didn’t ask them.
I watched
waiting alongside our purple vases
and peering through the stained stomachs of wine glasses
I let their red aftertaste warm the room
And I watched

Just as I watched my dad
his stout, leather figure
suddenly dancing
as he whisked the sauce on the stovetop into a waltz
or a tango
or a mambo
and his red apron bled into the softness of the kitchen lights.

I always wondered how he could let it just
like that.
Wasn’t he afraid it would die,
have no more red to give..

But he whisked on
and the apron’s color never did fade

maybe he wouldn’t let it.

And so I watched him from our old straw chair
crouched over my knees
licking salt from my
and waiting to get up.


Spoken Word Manuela Velasquez