From Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul

Home Sweet Caldo de Pollo

My home language starts to simmer
In a hot pot
Under high butane flames
The smell of caldo de pollo wakes me up
Calls me
Makes me go to the kitchen
Amá tosses chopped vegetables into
Boiling broth
Tomate, cebolla, calabacitas, chayote, zanahoria
Dance around the chicken
A new day forms in my mouth
Last night’s taste is forgotten

We decorate the table with ingredients
Turn on the fifties model radio to Ramón Ayala
Playing on La Que Buena
Take out the two-liter Coca-Cola plastic bottle
My mother sits across from me
Talks the language she learned in México
While she waited for her mom to flip

Two feet away from our conversation
Yellow corn tortillas heat on a metal comal
Dad made at his job in the factory
Las tortillas de maíz wait for their turn
To be rolled up into long flutes
Puffing steam, smooth tunes
Nothing like the garden-red chile
Who spills the knowledge learned
From the Earth’s own mouth

With every spoon full of caldo
I can taste the fire of her words
Dancing on my tongue

Outside, a summer evening
Lets the sun go to rest
Birds rustle in their nest
Make the leaves on the tree shake
Put a smile on my face
Tires on a car screech
Interrupts the peace
We don’t care
Let them say all they want
We. Don’t. Care.
Keep the conversation going
With a coffee
With a smile
With my six-year-old niece Gabby
Who comes over from across the street
For some caldo

A cool breeze picks up
Opening the screen door next to our refrigerator
Flies sneak in
Like always, to examine our lives

The plate left empty
A broken wishbone
The shell of the aguacate
Turned brown
The small yellow limones
Speckles of salt
On the green table counter
That I try to gather and pick up
With my index finger

Now that the caldo de pollo is in us
We are allowed to further speak
Our language
The language of love
The language of home

Alvaro Garduño

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