My grandparents
did not believe in air conditioning. They had
a window unit, but they never turned it on.
My grandmother would be at the stove all day,
melting manteca, toasting chiles, hot tortillas
at every meal, huevos rancheros, papas y chorizo,
beans and rice, fideo, enchiladas, gas burners
always on high, the whole house fragrant
and scorching. She kept the front and back door
open to allow a cross-breeze, a cool cloth
around her neck, and that was enough. Grandpa
was the same, puttering around in his shed,
in the garden, working on his Caddy, brim
of his hat pulled down low over his eyes, happy
as a pair of mythical fire creatures
in their element, raised in the shadow
of volcanoes and the breath of deserts, weaned
on habaneros. They didn’t even wear shorts,
while we sat outside on the porch swing, in
cut-offs and tank tops, and sweated, waiting
for Lacho from the next block to come
with a wrench to open the fire hydrant, waiting
for the ice cream man’s sweet mercy,
and perhaps this is why Grandpa died
in summer, he wanted to be buried
under the sun, and Grandma died
in winter, but wanted to be burned.

Lauren Scharhag (she/her) is an award-winning writer of poetry and fiction. Her titles include Requiem for a Robot Dog (Cajun Mutt Press) and Languages, First and Last (Cyberwit Press). She has had over 200 publications in literary venues around the world. She lives in Kansas City, MO. 

Image credit: “ristra y adobe” by Marcy Rae Henry