Llevo piña llevo plátano llevo berenjena llevo zapote llevo guineeeeoooo
I remember the woman who sold us produce on days where we forgot that one aguacate for the salcocho. I remember the woman who sold us those two extra plátanos when we were short some for breakfast. I remember the bellowing that poured down the streets of the neighborhood and into our homes, shaking our bromelias and waking our dogs. A bellowing that swayed the branches on our trees and knocked down our limonsillos. It was a voice full of vigor. She wore an outfit that was bursting with life. She wore a potpourri of reds and greens and yellows and oranges. She wrapped her hair in purple and her breasts hung by her waistline. Her worn chancletas told the stories of every mile she walked under the blistering Caribbean sun.
I remember her. She would walk down our streets around noon and I would run to la galería to see her pass. She was superhuman. She could carry what seemed to me a thousand billion trillion pounds on her head and not even hold the plastic bowl up with her hands. She had a rag that would crown her head to hold the bowl in place. I wondered how she mounted this bowl. I wondered how, in the many years that I saw her pass, I never saw her drop a single verdura. She walked up and down and left and right as smooth as a río before a rainstorm.
And then I remember the battered camioneta that barreled down our streets one Sunday morning. I remember the young guy sitting on the back, over a pile of plátanos. He spoke into a microphone and the jarring sound of his voice disturbed our cafesitos and dominoes. He wore a baseball cap that was bent at the front and denim shorts. And the camioneta was full of only green plátanos.
Day after day, this camioneta would plow down our streets. And I no longer saw the strapping lady with the colorful clothes and the voice that swayed our branches. I never saw the plastic bowl full of lechosas and piñas and plátanos and zapote peeking over the bushes of my backyard. But seventeen years later, I can still hear her voice.