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What Color was the Tomato?

Poetry by Gabriela Godinez Feregrino

What color was the tomato?

It depends on what kind of salsa she was making and what it was for. Abuelita has never used a recipe book, and knows what goes best with what. Green ones for chilaquiles, red ones for chipotle sauce. I loved the chipotle sauce, especially when she drowned bread in it, letting it bleed through the pockets of air under the bolillo's toasted crust. It was a mess to eat, but a treasure to taste.

How did you know it was safe to swim?

We didn’t. We were waiting in the house while the tide started to go down, but we waited too long and the tide got higher again as the moon started to glow. The storm didn’t really calm down overnight but the next morning we went out anyway, me and my cousin. We sat near the rocks and waited for the shoreline to shyly peck our toes. When the wave hit us, he was fine but I was much smaller. It dragged me back with it and sent me to the rocks. The big rocks. I only shredded my knee though—didn’t even hit my head.

When did you notice the rain?

Every time we left. It’s hard not to notice the rain from inside of a jumbo jet. The turbulence in my brain matched the shaking plane. People who say they like the rain must have never flown into a storm cloud. My cheeks flood as easily as the Mexico City streets, neither of us are equipped for that amount of water, this kind of change.

Why didn't you answer the call?

I don’t know. Maybe because I got older, maybe because I started to lose the words—that’s bullshit I never really knew the words, not at the pace of everyone else at least; though I got better. So I don’t know why I didn’t answer. Why I don’t answer. Maybe because my heart can’t handle any more cracks. Maybe it’s selfish. Maybe I don’t want to think about how I’m better off here instead of there. Are you better off without family? I don’t know. I don’t really try to know.


Gabriela Godinez Feregrino is a writer and activist from Cincinnati, OH. Born in Mexico City, she immigrated with her parents to the United States at the age of 2 years old. In attempting to understand the duality of her identity (ni de aquí, ni de allá) she has discovered that many of life's truths exist in a paradox. In her story telling and poetry, she enjoys experimenting and melting genres like romance and horror. She writes for Streetvibes street paper in Cincinnati, and is co-editor of Moon Cola Zine. In all her work, she believes in amplifying marginalized voices.

Image by Jamie Coupaud

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