How my Father Loves

How my Father Loves

By Juliana Martinez
Daddy always makes too many enchiladas. 
He says that the recipe is meant for a party, 
that we make it for just the two of us, that’s why. 
But then we host dinner for twelve, 
and somehow the quantity grows with the guests. 
Instead of thirty, which might work for twelve people, 
now there are one hundred and twenty tortillas 
(plus the seven left over from the tacos two days ago) 
waiting to be filled with the bright red sauce  
folded together with shredded chicken, 
and the crumbled cheese that still coats my fingers, 
packed underneath my nails despite the washing. 
It takes hours to roll them all together– 
music blasting out from a Bluetooth speaker, 
singing and laughing and talking about nothings. 
There is sauce smeared up our wrists and on the counter. 
There’s a streak across my father’s forehead too. 
He grins in triumph when we fill the last tray 
because there was just enough filling, and isn’t that 
a good sign? To have judged the proportions so well 
when he tossed more cans into the cart? I stare 
at his smile and find myself nodding, even though 
everyone will have to bring home a whole tray 
to have space in the fridge for the leftovers. 
It’s how he lives in the world, with so much zeal 
and no worries for logistics or economy. 
He’s too busy grabbing another pound of chicken 
to remember how many people are actually coming over. 
Everyone loves his enchiladas (How could you not?  
They’re delicious. There’s a reason I keep asking for them.) 
and the easy welcome in seeing so many waiting, 
that you’re almost sated just to see them. 
People bring some home, but I think he still eats the leftovers 
for lunch for at least a week straight afterwards. 
He never learns, either, a few months later 
he’ll ask me what I want for dinner, and I’ll say, “Enchiladas,  
please!” And we’ll go to the store and buy 
chicken and onions and cheese and tortillas 
and sauce and secret ingredients in quantities so high I ask 
“That’s a lot of chicken?” And he’ll glance 
into the basket and say, “Good point,” 
and grab another can of sauce, just in case we need it.

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