Lemons and Peppers

Lemons are yellow and round today. Not oval
like the rants that screw our minds
to surface in jealous rages. In Colombia
all were limones—yellow or green.

I tell my mother “amarillo, a…ma…ri..llo
Hold a lemon to her nose.  “I changed
your diaper,” she reminds me.
I sing until she falls asleep.

When Mamá could walk, my husband
asked, Señora,
how do you say peppers in Spanish?
“Peppers!” she said. The accent
of a woman in two countries.

The hottest peppers are female,
more vibrant than hibiscus pink,
or purple orchids.
The surrounding ferns are green.

“Peppers?” he asks today. The nursing home’s
age dust or the mistaken lime
of disinfectants makes Mamá sneeze. Her hands
twist on her lap—vines past season.

He places then withdraws his hand from hers,
like a teenager in a movie theater. With lips
folded inward she stares at her plate.

© Luisa Caycedo-Kimura
Originally published in Issue 69 of Crack the Spine (2013)