Gnashing Teeth Publishing

| words that get in your teeth

Feijoa Dreams by Ana Martinez

black and white photo of woman in black clothes with her back to the camera, wearing a white knit cap standing in the snow in front of trees

Things that didn’t stop the car bomb
from going off
near my grandmother’s house:
A gentle childhood nestled with tucked-in
nightly prayers and teddy bear
kisses, framed by high ceiling homes.
Piña coladas by the pool waterslide vacations.
Two parent household affording
catered parties adorned
by entertainers and clowns.

No one was hurt,
it was almost an afterthought,
until my father spoke out loud to someone
whose horrified expression screamed
it was not normal to grow complacent
to car bombs.
It burned an urge for him to get out,
convinced him there were signs:
the man being held up at gunpoint
for a car that was not as nice as ours,
the kidnapping threats and missing friends,
an uncle living abroad as encouragement.

That’s how we ended up in Ohio
with its sleepy green tree lawns
and quiet suburban broad streets.
We grew roots near those corn fields,
contorted tongues to fit in,
ignored the accusations that we were invasive,
and bloomed degrees and careers
that proved we deserved this.
Doesn’t matter that I still have an identity crisis
every time someone asks how my name
is pronounced, safety announces
itself when I’m told I must feel lucky.
Lucky to have escaped such violence,
that the visa got through when so many didn’t,
that this poem would not even exist
if things had turned out different.

But I don’t feel soothed by avoiding
abstract hypothetical harm,
don’t find reassurance in resilience awards.
Danger was only painted in retrospection
to justify how we abandoned a version of myself
that knew love as singing at parties
in her grandmother’s home around the block.
A version of me that cried in my mother’s arms
and lined up a row of teddy bears to decide
which ones she would have to leave behind.

I still taste feijoa dreams
of biting into palm-sized mangoes,
their juices dripping down
soothing the nostalgia scars
on my wrists.
Scratched them on the sour peach
tree in front of my childhood home
while climbing to a branched throne
for a tiny queen. I used to lounge there
bathing in a carefree white-petaled breeze,
whispering, “remember this.”

Ana Maria Martinez is a trauma therapist, writer, and artist. She was born in Bogota, Colombia and currently resides with her spouse and tiny dachshund in Denver, CO. She moved there from Ohio because at least the mountains and altitude feel a little closer to home.


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