She was making rice and stirring a pot of pollo guisao
beautifully, meticulously, cariñosamente.
I contemplated her.
“Smells good, right mija?”
A plethora of flowers fell from the heavens—
magenta, purple, blue, and silver.
They descended gracefully,
le lo lai le lo le lo lai,
carrying me to a fertile land.
I saw a jibarito delighting in the freshly cut grass.
With a melody on his lips and yerbas in his tattered hands,
he scattered the seeds with care—
Mamí continued mixing—
a sprinkling of water on my head,
warm, therapeutic, relajante.
I closed my eyes, releasing all weariness,
but my peace was interrupted.
She stopped stirring,
and I awoke to an empty stove:
no pollo guisao, no flowers, no song.
A swarm of locusts couldn’t soften a hardened heart.
It’s a rock—
can’t be split.
Water doesn’t flow out of it.
A hardened heart is thirsty,
surrounded by brick walls,
clogged with ideas of superiority,
frightened of different directions and new ways of thinking.
It is stubborn,
dismissing many signs and wonders.
We are works of art, capable of transforming,
yet a hardened heart discriminates, labels the ones considered worthy,
failing to remember that all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
A hardened heart is dead—
can’t experience unconditional love because its love has limits.
It has restricted powers—
can’t see beyond those walls,
can’t hear the sounds on the other side.
A hardened heart may never be softened,
but its blood must not be transferred into our veins.
We must not let it spill onto our streets, wash out our names—
no dead birds, empty cartons, stained sheets,
no altered images, false headlines, or distorted facts.
We must renounce the plague of darkness— there is no light there,
only sunken eyes nourished by hatred.
Elaine Nadal: "I am a writer and educator. I hold a master’s degree in liberal studies from Wesleyan University. I also have degrees in Spanish secondary education and fine arts (music). A Pushcart nominee, I have been published in several journals, including Pilgrimage Magazine, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, and Arsenic Lobster."