Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Love Poem, Prefaced with an Ode to Tostones
for Gabby

Praise to anything that can be eaten
before its time. To how easy it is to feed
yourself on tostones and rice and beans
as a broke grad student. Praise every
plátano I had to scrounge up when Giant Eagle
ran out—every bus ride I took to the Reyna’s Foods
in the Strip and every time I trudged
to Whole Foods. Praise the delicate peeling,
the throbbing from bits of skin stuck
underneath my fingernails, the bits of plátano
that would not depart from their protective coating.
Praise the cut along the bias. Praise the double-fry.
Praise every cutting board and pan bottom
and peanut butter lid I’ve used to replace
the tostonera I never owned—how I used
to wrap foil around a spatula to avoid grooves
in each tostón but always ended up with the faintest imprint.
Praise the saltwater bath, the oil popping back
and the burns I haven’t been able to avoid. Praise the salt
and garlic powder I mix together in the palm of my hand
before sprinkling it onto every golden disk. Praise every tostón
burnt to an uncomfortable crunch, every tostón that didn’t crisp,
every tostón improperly flattened and not cooked through,
every tostón that did not survive the bubbling oil
and broke into pieces too little to rescue—praise this first dish
I learned to cook. Praise the first time I cooked for you,
how I cooked this for you. How I didn’t care when you walked
into the kitchen and asked why I was cooking bananas—
how that is the only time I’ve ever forgiven anyone
for calling a plátano a banana. How I watched you smile
as you ate, listened to you call your mom to tell her
you had just eaten a twice-fried plátano. How all I cared about
was the way your voice lifted almost into song.  

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