100 Refutations: The Heart of the Pineapple

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“Look here,” the convent caretaker pointed to a corner of the altar. “Right here,” nearly pressing his finger into the faces of splintered angels while Mary stood inside an ornate frame of braided, wooden vines. “And here,” pale pink flakes of painted skin peeling off the Virgin’s face as we leaned in closer. “And right here too.” He pointed to the opposite corner, tile-floor footsteps echoing through colonial convent hallways. “Do you see it?”

“The pineapples?” We asked.

“The pineapples.” He answered.

The Virgin held the child god to her breast with her left hand while raising her right high above our heads. Half blessing, half threat, completely surrounded by the sacred shapes of native fruit. Symbols of the old religion closing in around the new.

“So…why,” I asked, “Are there pineapples in the church altar?”

“Because,” the dark-skinned caretaker said, tilting his head and turning his hands upward as if waiting for rain, as if this much should be obvious, “los indígenas carved it,” as if we were already drenched. “This is how you can tell it was them.”

“The pineapples?”

“See,” he continued, “When they came they brought their gods with them….”

“The Spaniards?”

“But there were gods here already.” Not rain at all, but a day of blinding light beneath the barbed crown of a refulgent sun god.

“They thought the new gods would replace the old?”

“More or less.”

“They thought the new gods would kill the old?”

“More or less.”

“They thought the old gods would stay dead?”

When we get home, I pick a pineapple out from the fruit basket and place it on the counter while my father finds a knife. “Right through the middle,” I say, drawing a line across its equator, my finger like a ship over the Atlantic, and my father nods. Back in the convent paint kept peeling off the Virgin’s cheek, will keep peeling off forever until she is worn down to bare brown and naked wood, while my father wraps his hand around a pineapple crown of razor-leaf thorns and sinks a knife into brown scales and yellow flesh.

“They thought it was a godless land of godless people with nothing and no one at all to look after them.”

More or less.

“They thought the new world was new just because it was new to them.”

More or less.

The sharp, sweet scent of piña and defiance. Sun-stripped skin and bite marks. My mouth waters, and I imagine the indígenas carving the old religion into the new, carving bites out for themselves, chewing on pineapple and wood chips while paint and juice drip down their chins. I want to hold the heart of the pineapple in my mouth until it burns through, until it peels me down to naked wood. I want to stare into the sun until my eyes burst like bites of blessed fruit.

“There,” my father placed the halved, dripping fruit upon the table and pointed at the secret sun-shaped hole at its center.

“They thought they’d bite down, and nothing would bite back?

More or less.

“They didn’t know about the pineapples.”

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V.

*

To help more directly, please visit:

Hispanic Federation: http://hispanicfederation.org

Hope for Haiti: https://hopeforhaiti.com

Salvadoran American Humanitarian Foundation: https://www.sahf.org

Bios

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V.

**

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V. (100 Refutations translator and editor) earned MFAs in creative nonfiction writing and literary translation from The University of Iowa. She is the author of Drown Sever Sing from Anomalous Press and Don’t Come Back from Mad River Books, as well as editor, with Sarah Viren, of the forthcoming anthology Essaying the Americas. Her fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and translation work has been featured in journals including Bellingham ReviewChicago ReviewFourth GenreBrevityPoets & Writers, and The Sunday Rumpus, among others. She won Best of the Net and Iron Horse Review’s Discovered Voices Award, has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and is a Rona Jaffe fellow. She moved from Colombia to China to Columbus, Ohio to Richmond, Virginia, where she works as an assistant professor for Virginia Commonwealth University.  Visit www.linawritesessays.com. ************************************************************************* Amanda Dambrink (100 Refutations co-editor) works as an editor for the University of Wisconsin's Continuing Education, Outreach & E-Learning program in Madison, Wisconsin. She also holds an MA in creative nonfiction from Ohio University, and her previous work has appeared in Prairie Margins and The Normal School, among others.

Copyright (c) Lina M. Ferreira C.-V., 2018.