OYSTERS AND ZARZUELAS

OYSTERS AND ZARZUELAS

From Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul

Oysters and Zarzuelas

Abuela Rufa,
my great-grandmother,
cigar-smoking,
bossy,
I-wear-the-pants-in-the-family
kind of woman,
used to set her chair
out back
on the porch,
Sunday afternoons
under the old avocado tree,
balmy breezes off Key West
flirting with her,
pail full of oysters
between her legs.
One by one,
she’d pry them open
with her ivory-hard nails,
a spritz of lime
and Tabasco,
and down they’d go.

I don’t know
if oysters are aphrodisiacs,
but by the time she’d reach
the bottom of the pail,
she’d be in love with the world,
singing zarzuelas
from her childhood days,
inviting everyone to join her
on the porch
in the shade,
where she’d kiss the children,
hug the women,
and share una copita de jerez
with the men,
shouting for all to hear,
“I’ve never found a pearl,
but I’ve learned about hope.”

Maria Ercilla

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