The streets of Oklahoma were pitch-dark,
I thought the power was gone.
How come these gringos don’t use light poles? I asked.
Saturday at noon. Panic had new meaning.
How come these gringos don’t run for cover
at the sound of the tornado siren? I asked.
Chatter, chatter, not sure they had read
the same English grammar book I had.
How come these gringos say she don’t? I asked.
Loneliness bites like coldness. Coldness stings when homesick.
How come these gringos barely look at you when they come in to work? I asked.
I became an easily confused waitress
especially when asked for a cup o’ joe and flapjacks
as my eyes opened big as the over medium eggs cooking on the grill.
It took a good soul to translate into plain English:
Coffee and pancakes. Was that so hard to say?
I’m often warmed by the silliness of those moments
gone – I now know not to run for cover at the scheduled Saturday test siren,
but I often find myself warning those who are new dreamers
not to worry about dark streets as there’s plenty of light
inside of us to go around.
Mariana Llanos is a Peruvian-born writer of children’s literature and poetry. As the daughter of two journalists, she developed and early passion for writing, reading and everything related to creative arts and communication. She studied Drama and Marketing, but soon after she moved to Oklahoma to start a family and a new life. In 2013, Mariana decided to self publish her first children’s book, Tristan Wolf, written originally in English. Tristan Wolf became a finalist in several independent books awards. She continued to self-published her next stories but also became interested in pursuing traditional publication. In 2016 she signed contract with Penny Candy Books for the publication of her upcoming children’s book Luca’s Bridge/El puente de Luca (April 2019). Mariana has won several awards for her work as a writer and as a global reading advocate. In 2017 she was awarded a recognition by the United Nations Association of Oklahoma and a Global Citizen in Arts Award by the World Experiences Foundation for her work promoting reading and empathy around the world.