when i look at my life in the context of the eleven years we’ve been together, i am literally left in awe. we have been through so much. we’ve moved. we’ve traveled to a different country. we’ve been really sick. you have seen me during times i didn’t even want to see my self.  we’ve walked. around the block. at the park. at the beach (which you really didn’t like). we’ve played tag. hide-and-seek. tried to play fetch (but you found it quite boring).  you’ve curled up at my feet when i was recovering once… twice… three times.

…and you understand everything without a single word.

lots of people look at dogs and just see a dog.  but for people who have had the opportunity to live with and have loved and cared for one, things are a bit different. you realize, you cannot dismiss them because they don’t have “human capabilities.”  and it is true, they don’t have human capabilities (a blessing, really). what they have is greater than anything we could ever grasp. and if you can attain their state of evolution, consider yourself, a lucky dog!

see what Bailey has taught me are four simple, powerful lessons: loyalty, unconditional Love, patience and the ability to forgive… easily and quickly.

she has remained loyal through my countless changes. she has Loved me, even when i take a little longer to get home or when she’s had to be somewhere without me for extended periods of time.  she has been patient with me in ways no one has. but the greatest lesson i have been taught by The Beagle is… forgiveness.

forgive my self and others. do so easily and quickly.
time is too short. it is not an ally.
all we have is now.

her Love has taught me, that a dog’s life is a lesson on the things that matter most: Love, patience, walks, treats, taking time out to be lazy and greeting each other with excitement.

i am lucky that you picked me to be your human companion Beags. here’s to more tail waggin’ lessons.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011

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un caballero

August 26, 2011

my father
taught me
how to be
un caballero.

tardiness
is not acceptable.
on a date,
get there
fifteen minutes
early.

bring flowers.
sweets
will never sour.

pleasant words
will bring a smile.

hold doors, pull chairs,
give up your jacket
before she gets cold.

he taught my sister
the same.

’cause he says
we needed to be everything
to ourselves and others.

papi
taught us
how to make dinner
into poetry.
from the way you cooked it
to the way you served it.

he taught us to call
our mother every day.
to never visit her
empty handed.
milk, eggs and bread
will fill anyone’s basket.

kisses are necessary,
hugs are mandatory.
the touch of Love
will keep everyone warm.

sing a Love song
-you’re never off key
if you sing it
from the heart.

a gentleman
never talks
ill of the past.
She sees it
as lessons for a
stronger future.

never
raise your voice
or your hand.

speak softly.
touch gently.

un caballero
recognizes
her flaws and faults
and works to be
better.

and remember
to be a true caballero
you must never forget
that you are always
una Dama.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

cooking lesson

August 21, 2011

“jamas le niegues a alguien tres cosas:
un vaso de agua, un plato de comida,
el uso de un baño.”
-Doña Juana Rivera

in 1985.

my abuela juana was a Mother. to her eleven children, forty-six grandchildren and a little six-story tenement building that sat in the middle of a spanish harlem, new york city block in the 12 o’clock shadow of the taino towers.

218 e. 122nd street.

on sundays my abuela cooked. and when i say she cooked, i mean she had the cucharones banging on calderos, el horno encendio’ making music in that kitchen to the rythmn of my aunts chatter and chismes. while the men played domino talking pelota y lo’ yankis o los mets… and the kids ran up and down las escaleras.

sunday was another way of saying family. if we weren’t at randall’s island, we were at abuela’s or at Titi Isabel’s. but cooking was happening. and so was eating. and Love.

when it was time to eat… my grandma would lead us in prayer and she would always say something along the “… y que aquellos que no tienen de comer, encuentren el camino a mi cocina.” (…and may those who do not have a meal, find their way to my kitchen).

cooking lesson 101: we are responsible for each other (blood related or not).

this is something that has always stayed with us… as the cousins have all grown older, we always tell each other, “stop by there’s always a plate for one more.” and we remember abuela. it was never a lesson that we were taught in the sense of sitting us down to tell us… it was just a natural way of nurturing.

between the pernil, el pollo, arroz con gandules, ensalada de papa, y escabeche de mollejitas we realized we had enough to fill our bellies and our hearts and those around us.

…you’d always see a few of us bringing somebody else. “this is my amiga from school…” you didn’t even have to finish saying her name, who she was related to, how she got here… when she was already being handed a plate. and then someone shouting, “quien falta de comer?”

abuela fed more than just our bellies. she fed our hearts with a sense of responsibility that lives in each of us eighteen years after her physical body left us. but her presence is still present in our meals.

feeding the collective familia is not just culture… it’s a commandment. food is just food if it has no nourishment that goes beyond the one it provides the physical body.  if you cannot feed the soul, don’t even bother to cook.

on sundays and every day… may i always feed souls.

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011 ©

writer’s note: a special thanks to Marvin Bings and Antonio Robles for inspiring my sunday muse.