The Guava Tree

Image by Maris Tyler

“Mija, come help me sweep,” says my beautiful grandmother
in broken English that feels like home
Voice so melodically foreign,
Like vibrant colors, stitched artfully together in a multi-textured quilt
Blue bandana covering her frizzy, brunette curls
Standing in the backyard is the Guava tree,
like a chieftain commanding to be worshipped
A black Ford Bronco sits in the driveway,
the kind cholos drive around in this neighborhood
“Guayaba, not gwa-vah,” she reminds me.
I let this word melt onto my tongue
It feels as dense as caramel, overwhelmingly sweet, and full of intention
Gripping the metal stem of my broom, I am entranced by the fruit’s smell
Awe-inducing like the tropics of Cancun
As I sweep the red bricks,
My craving for this aromatic splendor grows
I know I must wait until the work is done
Beads of sweat decorate my face,
Clothing me in diamonds in preparation for the ritual
When the floor is cleared,
my grandmother gingerly picks off two ripe guayabas,
wiping their dirt off on her flannel
I handle mine like it holds the secret to happiness
It bulges with seeds from its inner flesh that peak through its round surface
Fruit of my labor
My grandmother’s love, eternalized
rests on this sacred ground
Lingering spirit of my great grandfather who breathed the tree’s life into existence
It is our secret place
Few can handle its enlightenment
I see my future ripened like the most savory of guayabas
With strength to do anything and everything all at once
My calloused hands reminding me of the land of milk and honey
My purpose unveiled like the altar in the holiest of holies
Green canopy of leaves offering coolness in a summer’s day
Even here, where little light can enter, there is promise

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