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  • Writer's pictureMarías at Sampaguitas

Poetry by Ellie Lopez


There’s a spell with rosemary that Mami taught me. Rub the leaves between your palms, allowing your fingers to rub the stem, while saying a Padre Nuestro. As you finish the prayer, throw the rosemary behind you. In doing so, it wards off any ill words spoken behind your back.

Mami tells me this spell as we pass the rosemary in the garden. As she carefully grabs a stem, placing it between the palms of her hands. Saying the prayer by memory, allowing the words to reach the sky before throwing the stem behind her. It’s when her eyes are closed in prayer that I think of our old house. The backyard with bushes of rosemary. How fragrant the air became after the first rains of spring. The years I spent pulling on the flowers of the rosemary, and watching the tiny green leaves stick to my fingers. Where the oils of the rosemary would stay on my hands long after I had washed them. I think of the years in that house, and finding out that Mami planted the rosemary for protection. How the bushes of rosemary became her talisman, even though she never cared for the taste. And I stand here in the garden, watching her. As she grabs each leaf between her fingers, allowing the oils of her hands to become bewitched with the smell. The repetition of the ritual, the simple movements of the spell. I wonder how many times she has said this spell before me, that I never noticed. Before she says “Amen”, I hold on to each word. Watching her throw the stem behind her back.

Ellie Lopez (she/her) is a storyteller/photographer from Tracy, CA. When she's not ear hustling for the best chismes, you can find her on the socials IG: @lamexicanahermosa Twitter: @missellielopez.

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