Five memories (from a childhood in Nicaragua).

Carmen Frech Oliveri

Carmen Frech Oliveri


I have this memory of sharp rocks that cascade and ocean waves violently breaking over them.  They sound like crystals shattering.  I was a child, sitting alone at a beach house, writing silly fiction stories, and when I wrote them, I no longer felt alone.  I wonder now, if writers are inherently lonely individuals, even when they are insufferably social. 
I cannot help but feel that we live lives that are borrowed, lives meant for other people, like loaned vehicles, pending their returns.  I often ask myself, when will I have to give my life back? A life meant for another woman, sweeter than sugar, with wider hips, and gentle kisses, a woman caressing the edges of a white picket fence, her fingers over a rosary chain, a proper woman. Another woman.

I have this memory of twirling in a large patch of green, coconuts the size of houses hanging from the trees, mountains of dirt and uncaged beauty hugging the sky.  
Alone I twirled and I sang, fearing nothing, but fear itself, which is the trigger for most of life's disappointments.  I twirled, as if I didn't have a name or an identity.  
As children, we often have no idea of who we are in the world, nothing in my mind stands out for Carmen, only my bare feet over the grass, and the innocent idea that in that moment, I was absolute. 

I have this memory of a woman breaking shells in the corner of an unnamed sidewalk.  I gaze at her unmanicured feet, a discolored apron over her legs,  a hopeful, yet, sad smile. I taste the salt at the tip of my tongue and feel the heat over my forehead, draping over me, like a blanket.
This woman had evidently been through something.  I smelled the fish and stared at the soupy broth, fully knowing, I too would be through something, like a flock of birds fully knows that they will, at some point, flee south.  The fate of us was to survive something, but we didn't know what it was, until after we swallowed the black shells. 

I have this memory of a man riding a bicycle and yelling one word, simply, "bread."  His voice sounds hoarse as it gets closer.  The sound goes through my body as I turn my head in multiple directions.  A man with skin that is tearing like paper, and bones that crackle, like old wood in a fireplace.  I am a princess in a castle, because we live in two different worlds, and mine has food on the table, soft cushions in my living room and flowers in my garden.  I wait for the man that yells for bread, to offer him an apology, or perhaps a seat at my table.  I wait for the man that yells for bread, for the sun to break over the clouds, to see a cold drink dripping down his chin, and for the guilt to dissipate, once more. 

I have this memory of sitting on an old bench overlooking a large lagoon, tired horses carrying smiling children on their backs, meat on the fire and a sparkle over the water, where there was once a volcano.  I think about how things are once in one form and then in another, how if I closed my eyes, I could be in the depths of that lagoon, stretching my limbs like algae, dancing weightlessly, because there is nothing in a name, and everything in what lies underneath.  

Carmen Frech Oliveri was born in Miami and raised in Nicaragua, the land of lakes and volcanoes. A speech language pathologist, mother of two and bilingual writer. You can find more of Carmen’s work in the literary press Spillwords.

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