Rice & Beans

Rice and Beans

 

Hands, a bright light, and a quick tap

She is surrounded by strangers all thrilled by her arrival

Cold and confused, it is comfort she seeks

But passed from one nurse to the other she continues to scream

Now in her mother’s arms- finally, something familiar

Her first form of nourishment could not come sooner

Latching on was hard

Once- no

Twice- nuh huh

And third time was not the charm mom believed it would be

Moms frustration, steaming from pain

She wanted so much for her baby and had imagined it all

From first steps to first words

First dates, college, marriage, and everything in between

She will be there for it all

Love, support, and wisdom- one day will be passed on

Right now all she has to give was her milk

The baby shrieks

Tears flow from both their eyes

“Let me help you” mom whispers

“I’ll still protect you,

 it’s safe on this side”

Once more they try, with determination and patience

She received what mom had to offer

“I know this feeling,” she thinks

“On this side she's softer”.

Two

No more rooms full of strangers

She is surrounded by family, and the one she calls grandma always has food

Breakfast at grandmas

Lunch at grandmas

Dinner at grandmas-- mom works a lot

She doesn’t mind though grandma's a great cook

Rice and Beans

Chicken and soup

And the cousins are always around

Seven

 She still eats at grandmas

Same table, same food, same step stool used as a chair as her and the cousins crowd around the table

Family, laughter, and a full belly is what grandma is known for

Mom picks her up after work and she tells mom about her day

They both smile and laugh and head home- it is their safe place

Grandma cooked meals, but mom was best at dessert

Homemade Oreo ice cream was their forte

Nine

Now mom decides

“We’re moving to Virginia…”

She can’t believe it, but-but-

“… and ___ will come along”

-Grandma, the cousins, rice, and beans

The truck pulls off, and she cry’s as her grandma’s figure becomes smaller in the rear-view window

Now mom cooks all the time

She burns things and calls grandma every day

Two years later- a proposal, a ceremony, and a marriage

They eat dinner at the table each night

A meat, a starch, a vegetable

She looks around at her new family and thinks she could not be happier

Then mom pulls out the Oreo ice cream and her happy heart grows

Eleven

They are whispering and acting strangely

They sit her down on the couch

Their faces serious and stern

“Chantel….”

Her mind races

What could this be?

Am I in trouble –

The dishes: done

Room: clean

Grades: good

She looks up

“We’re having a baby”!

Joy breaks forth on all of their faces

 

Mom is now huge and can’t stand the smell of her own cooking

She cooks

He cooks

They all eat A LOT of egg rolls

She doesn’t mind though, it is better than pickles

Fourteen

They’re whispering again

Cabinets slam

Looks are exchanged when they think she’s not looking

This time mom sits her down- alone

Same couch, same room

“We’re getting divorced”

Tears break forth on her face, and her perfect world shatters

6 months later

New apartment and a lot of overtime

They eat out a lot less

She hasn’t seen Oreo ice cream in a while, but a lot of rice and beans

Rice and Beans

Rice and Beans

Rice and Beans

But these were different, they were not like grandmas

Fifteen

“Were moving to Mississippi”

Same family, new addition

Not a baby, but a husband

They sit around the table and she looks around, but her heart is not in it

She eats a lot of new foods

Gumbo

Sweet Tea

Corn bread

Cat fish

RED beans and rice- they are not grandmas

And her Oreo ice cream has been replaced with bread pudding

She misses the way things were but tries to embrace her new surroundings

Seventeen

Mom kisses her on the forehead and holds back tears

This is the day mom had dreamt and dreaded since the day she was born

She is moved into her dorm

No parents, no rules

She can make all her own decisions

Except for what she eats, the cafeteria has decided that for her

She looks through her options and tries to find something familiar,

She sees, red beans and rice and bread pudding

This is not what she had in mind

Twenty-Two

Two roommates and fully equipped kitchen she takes charge of her meals now

Rice and Beans like grandma and Oreo ice cream like her moms

 

 

 

 

Chantel Rivera