Papita (Grandpa)

I watch him from a corner in my memories. A corner forgotten and rejected for years, replaced by a new home with worn wooden floors and foggy broken windows. A corner sealed into a photo album, only reclaimed on Sunday mornings when I yearned for the warmth of a big family and the coolness of tierra for a floor.

There he is — shirtless, laying on the colorful amaca. A little buzzed, he sings gently, “no te quiero ver llorar” along his favorite corrido. Then, he whistles the rest of the song until he puts himself to sleep.

From the distance, I squint when retrieving this memory. Through his closed eyelids I want to see his red sad eyes. I want to get closer and smell the alcohol bottle that stands at his feet waiting for him to wake up. I want to run my hand over his wrinkly long fingers and say “papita, mire soy yo”. But I just stare at the cemented wall of the house with stains of food pressed against it, drawn from hands that have dragged from one corner to the other.

He reaches for the sombrero that’s been sitting on his pansa pelada and places it over his face. I turn my attention to our house and look for everyone else. It’s noon and there’s no one home. No sounds but his whistling snores, the pericos singing, and the ranchera that put him to sleep…

Cariñito de mi vida
dime adiós por que me voy
no te quiero ver llorar
yo no tardare en volver
aunque yo me vaya lejos
no te dejo de querer

En cada palabra sentí la punta de tu corbo abriendo heridas en mi pecho, heridas que replicaban las tuyas. En las heridas sentí el dolor que sentías entre la distancia. El mismo dolor que mi hermano y yo te causamos. El que te repetimos uno por uno; papi, tía, tío, Henrri y yo.

Each of us responsible for the wrinkles beneath your eyes. Long paths that trace the tears you’ve hidden under your sombrero on drunken nights.

Tu retrato y otras prendas llevo aqui en mi corazón

I thought about the things I carry from him deeply intertwined in my soul: Outside, his faint pale skin covers my short stubborn bones. Amongst a rushed NYC day, my short legs replicate his slow unbothered steps as he hikes to his cornfield.

I want more so I walked into the room and grabbed the sky blue shirt he wore for all special occasions. I folded it neatly inside my heart. I spot his sombreros but I don’t take one because they were father’s day gifts from Henrri and I. Those are his own memorabilia to store in his heart.

no me vayas a llorar
si en el día que muera yo
solo quiero que me guardes
luto allá en tu corazón

A huge knot in my throat chokes me as the lyrics float above that viejito I love so much. I can’t stay here anymore.

I exit the corner, look back at his body laying on the amaca and wonder if we’ll ever reunite and heal from all of this or will he just be a memory I write into my books, my films, my photographs, my lovers.