9th-12th Grade Poetry Honorable Mention
Abuela has barely tied the apron around her waist when she shows Mom the plantains,
their yellow and green skin bright against her café con leche hands.
She speaks rapidly to Mom, her flowing words as unfamiliar to me
as my harsh English is to her.
Following her instructions, Mom hands me two yellow plantains,
keeping the green ones for her and Abuela.
The yellow are the easiest to peel, but as a student I struggle
while the teachers easily strip the tough green skin from theirs. Without words,
Abuela puts her hand over mine, and guides the knife towards a seam in the plantain
that I couldn’t find on my own.
The plantains peeled and cut, Abuela heats up the oil,
one foot tapping on the ground to the
rhythm of the music playing faintly in the room.
Mom’s lips move, forming the words of a song
that only twists my tongue when I try to sing along.
The oil hisses to the beat, and one by one we lower the plantain slices into the oil.
When they are golden, Abuela takes them out.
We ignore the hot oil that singes our fingers
as we work next to each other, smashing the plantains
and dropping them back into the sizzling pan.
I take them out, carefully, like Mom taught me, and Abuela smiles.
She looks at Mom, murmurs a few words to her, and squeezes my arm.
Her hands say more than we could in either language.
Taveras, Torres, Diminich. My name is not like theirs, but I am learning.
I will learn,
and I do not need to know Spanish to know how to make plátanos, or to understand