With the slip, slap, clunk, of the rolling pin
I flattened the dough and shaped it round
She chopped, chopped, chopped on the butcher block
onions and peppers tossed in the pan.
First I heard the sizzle then tasted the burn
I’d hiccuped with the first spoonful
Wiped the sweat from my brow,
dabbed my eyes, blew my nose,
then took another bite of her hot chili.
Later that night her smile was highlighted in red lipstick.
Her dark hair, earlier in bobby pins, now styled in a 40’s curl.
Manicured nails, coated in clear polish,
fingered her rosary while shadows
played hide-n-seek on the wall.
Finally my father arrived,
His eyes brightened when she ran to him,
He held her in his arms and I watched for a second
then stepped back in my room
when they tumbled to the ground.
Yesterday I found a place, deep in the desert, to buy red chili peppers.
I brought them home and prepared them like we did so long ago.
I dreamed about her last night. I felt her hand on my shoulder
and heard her whisper, “Remember mi’jita, make it hot.”