Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The human tamale (confidential memories of illness)

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Arnoldo García

The human tamale (confidential memories of illness)

my grandma
would crush one or two aspirins in a spoon
add a bit of sugar,
a few drops of hot water
then put the spoon into my mouth
a concoction to kill the fever
In the waves of chills, sweats, speaking in tongues
In my body
I would fly over mountains
run under the hoofs of herds of wild horses
pounding my head and body into a dusty pulp.
Other times I would be lost in a desert,
under the night
I could jump
almost fly
and leap over plants, boulders, animals
My self evaporating into the mirages of the desert heat
The worst was being held captive in a space capsule
floating into the nothingness of deep space
slamming my voice and fists into the cabin window
A steady 1-2-1-2-1-2 traversing darkness, insanity
a deadly, suffocating endless silence
My grandma
would rub a water-laden rag
or with alcohol when we had it
across my body
my forehead
my stomach
my back
my arms
my face
other times I'd be on my back
and the bed would flip feet over head
spinning me into oblivion
The night that nothing worked
I did not sleep
I wept
I was in such deep pain
the only soothing medicine
became my listening
I was able to hear my heart pump
I locked into her steady beat
her steady rhythm
I became indivisible
In the morning the fever had ended everything
My grandma decided to fight the fever with fever
She and Melda had already started cooking tamale dough
They started filling cornhusks with tamale dough
first they created a small bed with them
My grandma picked me up, naked, and laid me on my bak
and began covering every part of my body with them.
My feet, my ankles and calves, my thighs, my hips and crotch
my stomach, belly-button, my chest, my shoulders, my arms and hands
then my neck, my ears, my nose, my forehead and top of my heads
only my nostrils and eyes remained uncovered.
Then I passed out.

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