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Ekiwah Adler-Belendez – Ⅰ




He knows what I’m going to have for dinner

even before I say it. He is Mexican.

He adds a little chile to my eggs,

making me a vegetable omlet with peppermint,

broccoli and roasted black onions—

he works at Simon’s Rock college.

We can’t find horchata or atole

or tlacayos or requeson

yet he discovers a way to give a twist to each flavor

to remind us of our home.

I ask for hot chocolate

and he prepares it with water instead of milk

so we can feel the euphoric bitterness,

the spirited acquiescent fire of chocolate.


He is a humble warrior

bravely sacrificing his love

for his family

and his country

so his children

can have material luxuries

and a good education.


I chatter away with the others in English

I read the last days of Socrates

and even appear to be at ease

in this amber wave of grain

yet in an incognito gesture

we are comrades

exiled by choice

from the place of our birth.

We bear together

the weight of a twin pain—

a private language.


He sees his family in Mexico

every three years

for a couple of months.

His children wait for him.

They want for their papa

to take them riding on a plane.

They want to know what it feels

to be sustained by the air.


When they meet him in the flesh

they are too shy to say hello.

Memories take time to travel to the present

when they are conducted through the thick rubber wires

of the past.


He knows them and does not.

The features of his kids

quickly outdate the pictures

inside his head.


Over the phone

his son just turned thirteen.

?cuando vienes papa?

when are you coming papa?

I imagine being away from them

feels like moving a missing arm

only to find it is

and is not there.


Maybe Eusebio finds contentment here.

Maybe I’m exaggerating. After all

he listens to pop songs from this country

to try to learn English. I give him a new word every day.

As if this language was a satisfying delicacy

he rolls each one in his mouth


His discreet grin reminds me

of the productive silence

that comes the instant after

a heavy rain.


He can’t talk to any of the students

because he was accused of harassing

a heavy blond cook that worked in our kitchen.


He wanted to tell everyone that she was wrong

he wanted to ask: what have I done to indicate that?

but his words were corrupted by translation.


We talk to each other in our flowery tongue now,

we thank the corn maker that has baked our skin

and while the North-American students wait for the food to be


they hear us talking in Spanish

and for a few moments

they experience themselves as foreigners.