Ileanna Portillo

Lemon and Salt

I’d be reading a book
and she’d walk up to me,
my grandma,
and silently place a bowl of
carrots with lemon and salt
next to me.

I’m looking for you now,
the way I would feel for the bowl
of carrots without taking my eyes
off the page.
But you are nowhere in this
city of dry heat and fast food.
Not in my house that gets hot
by midmorning and chokes me with stale air.
You are not in the sunflowers that
died while I was away because
I wasn’t here to water them.

You become a face printed on paper.
It’s difficult to conjure your hands,
how they wrapped roses in paper for me.

Sometimes a breeze will blow in and
it seems to carry your unguarded laugh.
I’m not as sure of myself as I was when
I knew the bowl of carrots would be there.

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