If There Were a Chile to Taste Like Sunshine

She bought the rugs in Peru
where aji amarillo hung
like citrine gems in the lobes of market stalls,

old women, shriveled peppers,
calling to the American girl
lank in slacks, the languor of such heat

dark in the roots of her hair.
She didn’t take a lover there,
but loved to listen to the longing

flutes and shadows, labored breath,
all moaning hills
and pentatonic hollows.  Instead,

she learned to cook.  Mortar and pestle ground
such spice into her dreams.
She slept with fennel and cumin

under her pillow, folded in her palms
like prayer.  And now,
gone herself to ground,

her granddaughter hangs the market rugs,
that impulse of a warmer clime,
where sun will strike the drum

of her kitchen wall, where she will wash
and dance and bake and hum
a tune that no one taught her, but she knows
O so completely.