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.