Pt. 1 – The frijoles: Los Angeles, 2019
Mamí! They should be steaming on this table:
La casa de la familia Serrano needed them: no exaggeration
With a sorry feeling: mouth, nose, and stomach,
La casa, the silence that fills the dinner table,
We all realize we are at loss,
Of happiness. We are selfish folks;
Oh! Please! Come back with the frijoles and place them on our table;
Give us garlic, dash of salt, minimal mashing, joy.
Your hands are the tools we are missing:
Your knowledge and measurement without physical tools:
So accurate, no one else can get it right
But you have left to cook for your Honduran mamí:
It’s the goddess: in you
That will always remain
La casa de la familia Serrano: The Serrano household
Pt.2 – The Letter to Mamí
The frijoles are the signature in every Central American dish. They’re not talked about that much but if they’re missing, you know, everyone does. And if you stop to think about it too much, it ruins it, the whole meal is ruined. Emma Serrano, the queen of the refried beans. I hope you didn’t think it was just boiled beans I was talking about. That’s why they’re so special, because they’re refried beans. They first swim in garlic and then they’re sprinkled with salt. Through tired arms and hands, she mashes them. And no, a stirring machine would never do a better job. Their final state is one of perfection. They’re not liquid, but they’re also not mashed completely, they are the right consistency. You are still able to taste half of a whole bean in every mouthful. A machine could never do that. It’s her that we miss. Because the beans are there, uncooked. No one else dares, and quite frankly, no one else could come close. Our dinner table is not what it should be. The flowers that were once vibrant in the middle of the table have lost their color. The table cloth that once looked crispy in the perfect cream color is fading gradually. Maybe it’s because many days have passed and every meal gets more and more dull. We reach the point where everyone begins to think it’s not worth eating anymore. We are in a drought, in a drought of good food. We are quickly losing hope, letting go very fast of the possibility of wholesome food, of happiness. Please come back, for without you we have no beans, no hope; we are nothing. Emma, your magic was performed every time you served those beans with a meal. Your accuracy and consistency is what kept the beans alive. We need you back so our dinner table can come back to life. Oh, how we miss the times two weeks ago when we had freshly mashed beans on our dinner table. Two weeks in Honduras have lasted too long, for without you we are nothing. Please come back, for the sake of the frijoles, our stomachs, and us.
Review – A Letter to My Publisher, Patrick
I am mimicking William Wordsworth’s sonnet, London, 1802. I hope you can let me know and give me insightful feedback on the way I focus on the exaggeration, need and importance in Wordsworth’s sonnet and the way I mirror that in my work. Reading London, 1802 shed light on the dramatic tone that the sonnet caries. I thought of the ways in which my family is specifically dramatic when we don’t have our food taste the way that we’re used to. The topic of beans is something that seemed comical enough to give Wordsworth’s sonnet the perfect twist to. Considering that the sonnet was short, I made the creative writing portion two parts. The first is taking Wordsworth’s sonnet and looking at the ways in which there is a vast amount of pleading for John Milton to come back to life. I mirrored that strategy (“Oh! Please! Come back with the frijoles!”) urging my mother to come back, except my sonnet was more exaggerating because I’m not asking my mom to come back from the dead like Wordsworth is. The exaggeration was taken to the next level since my mom has only been gone for two weeks. This I found kind of funny given that I wrote so much about missing the times when we had my mom and her beans just two weeks before. I am therefore trying to mirror Wordsworth’s way of establishing the need that England has for Milton, conveying they are completely lost if he doesn’t come back. The way I establish this need is in the second part of my approach, in my letter to my mom. This consists of me including words such as: “no hope, nothing, fading, dull, drought” as well as through imagery of the flowers and the table cloth covering the dinner table losing their color in order to depict the world that doesn’t involve her. Wordsworth is conveying an image of England as a dull place, in desperate need of help, and only Milton can fix that. He conveys the importance of Milton by including the fortunes he’s given England: “manners, virtue, freedom, power.” In the same way, only my mom, Emma, can make the beans that lead to my family’s happiness. I portray her importance by including her strongest characteristics: “knowledge, accuracy, consistency, magic.” Through the mirroring strategy of establishing the exaggerating tone, need and importance of my mother, I aim to make people laugh over how big of a deal beans are, while also conveying how important they actually are to my Central American family. I would appreciate any feedback on what other forms you suggest I focus on. As always, thank you for your time.