Today we sing the praises of the Mexican tortilla.
O tlaxcalli, ancient flatbread, little round cake, pride of the Aztecs! Delicioso!
ODE TO TORTILLAS
by Fernando Esteban Flores
hide between the folds
of my tortillas
ready to be deposited
in a place where hunger knows no boundaries
how this flat, round
invites me to discover
its buttery terrain
of uncharted appetites
uncurled to my intestinal delights
will you be
my gordita tonight
decked out in your
green & red petticoats
might you tease me
with a red strapless
in a country of brown hands
in fellowship with tlaili, ehecatl, y atl
(earth, wind & water)
i repeat the cosmic cycle
i break you
& i receive the wafer of survival
on my tongue:
Bless the golden maíz that brought you forth
Bless the bronze hands that kneaded you
Bless the stone pallets that rolled out
the perfect faces of my people
~ from Ragged Borders: Poems (Hijo del Sol Pub, 1996).
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How I love this poem — the sense of reverence, the nod to roots, beginnings, of coming full circle in such beautifully spare verse. There is a wonderful feeling of wholeness, as if the poet wrapped the heart of his culture in that “flat, round speckled world.”
Speaking of the “perfect faces of my people,” enjoy this mini gallery of tortilla art by California native Joe Bravo, who began painting on tortillas because he couldn’t afford canvases back in his college days.
I use the Tortilla as a Canvas because it is an integral part of the Hispanic Culture and my heritage. For the subject matter of my tortilla paintings, I use imagery that is representative of Latinos, conveying their hopes, art, beliefs and history. As the tortilla has given us life, I give it new life by using it as an art medium.
JOE BRAVO TORTILLA ART