Mi Empleada (My Maid)

She stood in the kitchen
her hands soapy and busy
She cocked her head back to listen
as we told stories of South Korea.
‘’Is that the Korea that’s safe?’’ she asked
and I drew a line in my mind
two dots connecting across the ocean
reaching all the way to Colombia.
She asked if he liked it there
and I wondered how he’d answer.
Her eyes begged him to say no,
to claim his love for her country instead.

This country she loves, I think.
A moment in my memory stands out:
Bumping into a friend, meeting her family
saludos and besos for all, warm hugs.
Except the one in the back—I didn’t catch her name
Her smile got tucked away,
no besos were shared,
her empleada.

As she finished up the dishes,
she laughed about a place far away
where besos cannot be given—
not even a huge to a friend.
She beamed with pride as she shared
her love for affection
given to her grown adult sons
when she sweeps them up in her arms.

When she left, she slipped out quietly
taking her warm smile with her,
the floor behind her without a trace of dust,
the dishes neatly stacked in their spot.

I wondered about this country she loves…
Does she get the besos she deserves?
Does she clean up every mess she finds?
Does the country she loves
love her back?

Photo: Eduardo Sciammarella

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