Family Portrait With Enchiladas and a Movie

Family Portrait With Enchiladas and a Movie

Family Portrait With Enchiladas and a Movie


Picture this: my heart as thick orange as manteca
as we turn on Twister for what has to be
the sixteenth time since 1996,
and my parents are tired of it now,
but I really begged for it,
for the sake of tradition;
Helen and Bill embarrassingly in love,
the wind turning in circles
like the witch is at it again:
the Phillip Seymour Hoffman witch, with hair
like herbicide wheat fields,
and a ceremonious voice
that slices right through metal.
When we have enchiladas for dinner,
I can’t help it—
I have two, then three,
then four and a half servings
with rice and even the beans
swimming in their curls of gelatinous bacon
and comino; each piece hangs in the stew
like a comma. Like a coconut, dad says
of my eating habits, but I had to save room
for cheese, piled high and sharp, melting right
into my personal nostalgia.
Meanwhile I will celebrate enchiladas:
those mounds of earth
going straight to the confused gut,
the gut with no country. Doesn’t Alexa Vega,
the light-skinned Latina from Spy Kids,
play the Oklahoma girl who sees her father
ascend the F-5 god?
Later played by Helen?!
Her hair is like my sister’s—
a sweet, golden brown that confuses people,
but she’s the first to rant about white privilege
at dinner, swinging her fork around
like a squall, until you’re at one end of the table
only to end up at the other,
exactly like a helpless cow.
Growing up, dad would turn on the surround sound
as we took cover under the colchas,
an average storm outside, our apartment
small, but sonically ambitious,
and the threat not exactly there,
but there all the same.
We’ve never forgotten what could
have happened and could still happen
at any time, and with no warning
sending us right into that Midwestern debris
where the basements are filled
with strange, blank faces
that rise, heavy as spoonfuls
on spoonfuls of bodies. Does nature think
we’re in the way,
or is it trying to solve a curiosity?
Have we been chased into the eye
of the eye? The fat luxury of the eye?

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