Azul Serena

I wrote this piece in honor of my pen-name. For many years I entertained different names but it wasn’t until I signed my name as “Azul Serena” that I felt I had found a name that represented my multicultural identity. This name allows me to think, feel, and write in both English and Spanish without having to justify my usage of either language.

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I am not a writer. Rather, I am a patient of medicinal writing; writing that heals. It’s not a healing from trauma; it’s the healing from knowledge. Knowledge that comes from discovering who you are. Not the You that you portray, but the You that runs through your veins and pumps through your chest. A chest that heaves from the headiness of breaking free. Freedom that comes from shedding the name that belies your roots, your tongue, your soul. A soul that fits neither here nor there but only within me. I am Azul Serena.

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“Azul Serena” by Azul Serena

Love Me

Love me in free verse
So that I may love you in rhyme.
Love me in song
So that I may love you in sonnet.
Love me in prose
So that I may love you in poetry.
Love me in dreams
So that I may love you in consciousness.
Love me in light
So that I may love you in darkness.
Love me in color
So that I may love you in grey.
Love me as I love you
So that I may love you as you love me.

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“Love Me” by Azul Serena

I Can’t Sleep

It’s 3am but I can’t sleep.
I’ve begged and pleaded my eyes to close
To ignore my emotions
And forget the image of him in her arms.
But they won’t listen.
They demand an explanation
As they replay yesterday’s events
One excruciating detail at a time:
Her lips, his hands, their breath, my heartbreak.
As though pain is the very essence of their existence.
This pain should accompany tears,
The respite my chest desperately seeks.
But my eyes refuse to cry.
They cannot see beyond the past
And lie awake in hopes that I will sleep away this garish dream.

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“I Can’t Sleep” by Azul Serena

Cooking

Prior to Ruben, cooking was an act of survival. It was methodical; like clockwork. We planned meals on Saturday, shopped on Sunday, and prepared every meal with nothing more than a spare thought that was sooner lost in steam than in memory. The spices and scents only signified rawness and readiness. The servings and plates only marked another day lived.

Then Ruben came. And with him came the realization that cooking is an act of intimacy and vulnerability. Cooking was no longer only an act of survival; it was an act of creation. Every pinch of salt, every grain of rice, every garlic clove, every skillet, spoon, and stir, had a purpose and a meaning. They spoke of my lessons as a young girl who was entrusted with the secrets of the women in my family. The recipes and stories had the same origins but our hands – my ancestors’ and mine – gave them our unique interpretations.

The recipes I learned didn’t use measuring cups and spoons, they used intuition and inspiration. The size of my palm determined the size of the pinch of salt that was sprinkled into the pot. My eyes, nose, and tongue determined the colors, heat, and spices of every dish and beverage I made. The warmth of my palms always kneaded the dough with just a tad too much heat. You cook it before it reaches the fire my mother always said.

Although I learned my lessons in the kitchen with the adeptness of a curious 12 year old girl who later perfected them as a young woman, it wasn’t until Ruben sat at our table that I realized the power I held every time I interpreted one of the many unwritten recipes.

What made that first dinner with Ruben so significant was the fact that I, and not my mother, had prepared the meal. I wove the intricate ancestral meals into a fine tapestry of dishes and flavors. I had chosen how to represent my daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers. Because of this, I felt exposed and vulnerable. Without uttering a word I had shown him who I was and what my legacy would be. I had shown him how I perceive the world in terms of flavors, textures, and scents. I had given him a piece of myself that even I would never experience because I had known myself longer than I could recall.

In return for my unabashed vulnerability Ruben gave me the most important lesson in the kitchen: Cooking is not an act of survival. Cooking is an act of creation and intimacy. It is openness and guilelessness. It is everything that we try to hide but can’t because our intuition reigns supreme when our cooking is not limited by measurements and numbers. Cooking is an act of love.

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“Cooking” by Azul Serena