grayscale photo of chinese dolls

Poetry No. 84 – Jessica Arzola-Grissom


by Jessica Arzola-Grissom

Ah Muñeca.
She calls me her doll as she chuckles to herself. 
Being the firstborn daughter of her son gave me a special place in her corazón. 

Grandma Olivia woke up before the sun,
Bringing home two large bags filled with pan dulce.
She takes out my favorite – a pink concha –
and places it in front of me as she cooks breakfast.

The large mixing bowl is filled with yellow masa and hot water. 
Her hands mix and pat out gorditas to cook on the comal. 
The molcajete rests in the center of the table, 
filled with peppers as shiny as costume jewelry.

I wonder if the red pepper will taste better than the enticement of red Jello. 
Shiny things intrigue me, and Grandma cautions ITS VERY HOT.
Slicing a tiny sliver, I put it on top of a gordita
She waits expectantly, 
her laughter fills the kitchen 
when I tell her I love it. 
She exclaims as she continues cooking. 

Her kitchen is always filled with food.  
Cinnamon and sugar permeate the air
as she makes buñelos and arroz con leche. 
At Christmastime, she and the ladies make hundreds of pork tamales
and give some away to those in need. 

She dances and sings along to all the songs. 
When Antonio comes on TV she said, 
“That’s my boyfriend!” 
Laughing, singing, and cooking are the essence of her soul.

When she finished the last gordita, 
she’d wash her hands.
and replace the masa with a garnet ring.  
A garnet that stands for protection, friendship, 
trust, commitment, and love. 

Thinking back on her life, 
I am thankful we share not only our birth month, 
but the memories of sugar, spice, 
and the love that filled our corazón. 

Jessica N. Arzola-Grissom lives in a small Texas town with her husband and son. Her writing has appeared in various print and online publications including The Image, Logo Sophia, Valiant Scribe, Reedsy, and Latine Lit. In 2022, her poem “Adventura,” won 2nd place in the Irene Emmerson Poetry competition. “The Rainbow” recently appeared in the anthology titled Scars.

Photo by Ken Chuang on

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One thought on “Poetry No. 84 – Jessica Arzola-Grissom

  1. Nice one! I enjoyed every line – a lovely memory/homage/poem – yes.

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