It took me several years to make
the connection between the peppers
my father grew in the garden

of the house on Palm Avenue,
in California, and the plump,
yellow-orange bonnet peppers

called “ají cachucha”
on the sign in the produce
section of the market.

I put one into my mouth now and taste,
as if this is the only way to connect
with my dead father, a man who

believed in all the gifts of the earth,
and he is laughing now as I tear up
from the heat in my mouth

because I should have known
that pleasure and taste come in many
forms. This one, though, doesn’t wait

to remind you. It burns in your
mouth, it glows on your tongue.
Not even water can help you now.