IT WAS DIFFICULT SWALLOWING AND SMILING
AT THE SAME TIME
She was teaching me to make
I already knew how to make terrible enchiladas
but didn’t say so. She was too excited
to share. I paid attention
while she crushed tomatoes,
warmed white flour tortillas,
disregarded spices. I grated mild cheddar
and decided her performance
in bed that afternoon must have something to do
with her attitude toward cayenne.
While dipping those flour tortillas
into a watery sauce and rolling them
around “refritos” and hamburger,
she told me how her mother
had never cooked and how she herself was proud
to be such a good cook when without looking
at me she says please don’t
be offended. I have to tell you
your naked breasts reminded me so forcibly
of my mother and that’s something I need
to work through. It’s just that they’re so
lumpy and too doughy to handle,
and I’m worried about smothering.
I’m sure you understand.
She dumped the cheese into the pan
and thrust the whole mess into the oven.
After dinner I cleaned up,
scraping glops of enchilada
into the garbage. They hid
the scrap of paper scrawled with her
phone number. She may not have said
that entire speech,
exactly, but that’s what I learned.