Joanna is a poet and Spanish-English bilingual educator. Originally from Seattle, she holds a master’s degree in Social and Cultural Foundations of Education from the University of Washington. Her poetry can be found in Midway Journal and Wasafiri Magazine. She was shortlisted for the 2019 Wasafiri Queen Mary New Writing Prize. She lives with her partner in Córdoba, Spain where she teaches and writes.
When we fry tortillas in hot chile oil
and the splatter bites my wrists you say,
“Flip faster!” The oil stings sharp
as your tongue from across the kitchen
flinging words to bury in my mother’s back.
Mom tells me through her teeth she thinks
you drink about a bottle of wine a day.
I figure that at 90, you earned it.
While she goes to the Al-Anon meeting,
we sip brandy in your apartment.
You complain about the weather, the washer,
and my uncle. I ask if you will teach me
your tamale recipe, but you mutter
something about arthritis, then parade me
through the halls to show me off to Sheryl
and Mary and Flo. They nod their slow nods
from rockers. Then you give me the gossip:
Sheryl’s kids never visit, Mary has an ulcer,
Flo is going senile—and you?
The management wrote you up for barbequing
in the parking lot and drinking Bud Light Lime
which you hid in a cooler in the bed of a truck.
At least now we know who buys Bud Light Lime.
Little old ladies in Lincoln, Nebraska, picking
their teeth and fanning themselves
with paper plates on a July night.
You fry my eggs in bacon grease while you
dust your collection of cat figurines. I see you
bite the tips off jalapeños and graze the pans
on the stove with your finger tips
to see if they are hot enough.