Translated by Katrina Hassan
Yes,yes, yes, I regularly burn sage my room, on drizzly mornings like today.
The smell of the sage leaf brings back memories of the smell of wood burning ovens lit up in rural Guatemala. There are no wood ovens here. In this enormous industrial town, there are only factories that line the packing district. Although, the other day, I saw an outdoor oven. It was on a farm on the outskirts of town. I felt winded, I couldn’t breathe!
An oven! An oven! I yelled again! I ran from the stable, past the goats and vegetable patch.I reached the galley where the great artisanal oven stood. An oven! I cried again. The goats, tomatoes, lettuce, and apples all heard me. The fruit and vegetables were all getting ready and ripe for harvest. I sat and cried, under the galley, as I imagined the quesadillas, marquesas and semitas, and salpores cooking in the oven. Just like they did in my native Comapa.
Yes, yes, yes, on rainy days like today, Guatemala seeps through my pores. It floods my room. Its fog goes through the window panes and swings on cobwebs that I never clean. I lose track of time and confuse the maples for oaks, the tulips for may flowers. The cherry trees become chasté and when the grass begins to turn green again, I see the grassy meadow of my Great Love. All gets distorted on days like this.
I pour myself coffee, made in an earthenware pot from the Las Crucitas village. The landscape of the Paz river is stamped on the walls over my acrylic abstract paintings. The sound of he river falling all the way from La Joya on to the big rocks, harmonising with the drizzle. Rainy days have a strange attractiveness. A strange power that makes Guatemala seep through my pores. It places in my garden oaks, cypresses, a pond, fields of tomato from La Maria, poinsettias, the banana plants, christophenes, loquats, the little path and the big old path. It prints an enormous impressionistic painting, the happiest memories of my childhood in Ciudad Peronia.
Yes, yes, yes, I have left Guatemala in body but not in soul. My feet walk on other lands, but my spirit, on rainy days, like today, goes back to splash in the muddy roads that surrounded my childhood. I observe, sipping my coffee, imagining that I am eating a one of Adelona’s semitas. It is time for the izote flower and the last red jocotes from Jalpatagua. It is time to sow the fields so the seeds can germinate with the first rains of May. It is also time in this urban, industrial sprawl, for spring. Time for the rain to make Guatemala seep through my pores. The grass will become green and turn into a book with stories that I never finish writing.
Yes, yes, yes, I keep burning sage because it reminds me of the days I used to cut chipilín, and escobillo at the meadow in my great love, on rainy days like today.
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Ilka Oliva Corado. @ilkaolivacorado
Saludos Ilka, tus relatos siempre bien entretenidos!