Pennies in Heaven

Una poema sobre mi Grandmama ❤ Published in TeenInk Magazine.


grandmama, tell me

tell me about the summer days

When you danced in the streets of El Salvador

for pennies to buy candy

tell me about the rich man on the patio

who would give you pennies when you walked by

and how you would keep walking by

and by

and by

tell me about the songs and the dances

and how to move my hips like una españolita

tell me why they don’t grow chile in china


abuela dí­game

tell me about the day she asked you to move to America

and how you shrugged your shoulders and left the next day

tell me about the bus ride

about three straight days in the latin heat

with nothing but a floppy hat and some hope

tell me about the El Salvador dust that the bus left

trailing behind

not out of neglect but necessity

tell me about your first day in the land of opportunity

grandmama, tell me

tell me about the cooking and cleaning

and why I should eat beans with every meal

tell me about your coffee

and how it got blacker as the work got harder

tell me about tequila and men

and why I should avoid them both

and why El Salvador is where the beautiful people live

and why you say eres hermosa niña, eres bonita

abuelita dígame

tell me about the bus ride to heaven

under the warm latin heat like a river of salsa music

dancing through your soul to your hips

as you shake

and clap

and clank your glass

to la cucaracha, la cucaracha –

grandmama, tell me

tell me if they grow chile in heaven

’cause aye aye aye they don’t in china

and tell me, was your first step off the bus beautiful?

beautiful like eighteen cousins learning to salsa

beautiful like the fiestas

the tamales

the besos y brazos

beautiful like your strong spanish soul

Abuelita, tell me

tell me you hear my prayers

and that you know I miss you

grandmama, tell me

por favor

Does God give you pennies in heaven?


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