Put Attention

Laurie Ann Guerrero

Put attention, grandma would say, as if attention
  were a packet of salt to be sprinkled, or a mound
    we could scoop out of a carton like ice cream.

Put attention, put attention. Put it where? In her hands?
  In the percolator? On top of the television set
    that seeps fat red lips and Mexican moustaches?

Next to the jade Buddha? Between La Virgen and Cousin
  Pablo’s sixth-grade class photo—marshmallowy teeth
    jumping out of his mouth? We never corrected her.

Like the breast, Spanish lulled grandma's tongue, as we threw
  down shards of English, laughing, for her to leap in and around.
    Put attention, put attention. Put it where?

Shall I put attention in my glass and drink it soft like Montepulciano
  d’Abruzzo? Like Shiner Bock? Horchata? Put attention.
    Ponga atención, she tried to say in our language.

Put attention somewhere large. Back into her eyes.
  In the part of her brain that doesn't remember her own
    daughters, how to make rice, translate instructions.

Paola Valenzuela / University of Arizona