Poetry & Prose from the 940: Hispanic Heritage Month

This installment of Poetry & Prose from the 940 comes with a theme very special to me. September is Hispanic Heritage Month and we wanted to be able to uplift some voices in Denton that could share their experiences being from a Latinx background. And, to continue our awesome collaboration with Spiderweb Salon, we have chosen Amelia McBride Echenique’s submission to feature over on Spiderweb’s website. Putting together this installment has been emotional and beautiful, and I hope that when reading these pieces, you can understand that the Latinx identity is anything but a monolith. To everyone that submitted, thank you for sharing your heart with me, us, at The Dentonite.

Between the Walls by Lesly Gutierrez

There’s an open wound on the US-Mexico border, these imaginary lines drawn to keep out otherness. Our culture is joy; tongues dancing in Spanish, telenovelas and cooking with mama. Abuela talks about something from nuestro país. These lines are really meant to keep out our joy.

Nuestro país. Weird to think about what life was before. Brown skin hold more than bones, it holds our trauma. The stories of our families and how they got here.

The stories are so similar it’s haunting. You get to a point where you look around and everything is sadness. Starvation and violence are no ways to raise the babies you love so much. You pay the coyotes all the money you own, strap your baby on your back, and pray to the god you feel abandoned you that you make it okay.

The journey is hot and thousands of miles, and the bodies of those that tried to make this trip before you greet you along the way. With everything you love on your back you carry on. You leave behind the only home you know, you leave behind every person you know and you carry on.

And then you get close enough but men and dogs come forward and rip your baby from your arms. The child you tried to protect is taken from you, the edges go black and everything starts to spin.

Not all immigrants are brown, but when was the last time someone ask your European friend for their papers?

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I didn’t think that meant building walls. Can you imagine getting to hold the person you love most for only 5 minutes? To try and touch the love of your life through slots in a fence? Walking into another country so your papi can see you graduate?

Our skin may be brown but our dreams are American. We don’t talk about my mom’s journey. But I talk about how immensely proud I am of her and how thankful I am that my mom is the strongest woman I know.

Esto es para mi mami, y mi gente. Un pueblo unido jamás será vencido. Somos la futura.

Pertenezco by Amelia McBride

In my dreams I float,

Showered in Florida Water,

Riding a wave to a neighborhood in Coral Gables where geckos and snails litter the sidewalks. 

In my mother’s home,

Plantain chip crumbs lay on the kitchen floor

And musky perfume fills the rooms

And sparkling quartz beads dangle on my mother’s wrists 

And a pendant of La Virgen de la Caridad lays on her chest

And a tile with the Cuban flag painted on one side sits proudly in the kitchen. 

Warm and vibrant and loving and sacred,

And yet I feel like a guest. 

“Okay Google, can you be white and Hispanic at the same time?”

I do not have her eyes,

No soy morena ni corta y yo no hablo Español con fluidez. 

A man misspoke and asked me “So what’s your authenticity?”

The intent of the question wasn’t lost but somehow the remark took on a whole new meaning. 

Soy de aquí, pero también soy de allá by Alejandra Ramos

Born on the border, no fear to cross,

México es mi tierra y Estados Unidos mi hogar.

There is no way to decide,

Ni tampoco es una necesidad.

Both lands saw me grow and prosper,

En ellas me crié, crecí y me enfrente.

Juárez breaths binationality and diversity,

Our incomparable border, our unique border

I grew up in an inimitable place,

La frontera es algo diferente.

Crossing every day to get to work,

Coming back to reunite with loved ones.

Un río nos separa,

Nonetheless, an identity unites us.

Resilient and strong people,

Immigrants, that’s who we are.

Gente sin miedo, gente resiliente,

We are part of binationality.  

Where are you from?

I am from here… and from there.

¿De dónde eres?

Soy de aquí, pero también soy de allá.

My “American” Is Me by Claire Cadena

I have brown eyes and brown hair

So brown they look black

My cheeks are soft and so is my heart

My hair is thick and silky, my skin is tan 

Sun kissed in the loveliest way

Yet somehow, you were able to make me question 

My beauty

My self

My worth

Because I’m not fair skinned

I’m not blonde

I don’t have thin hair

Nor freckles in my cheeks

And I know that’s what you wanted

I apologized many times in the mirror for not looking the sort

I apologized to you

I apologized to myself

But now I look back and think how silly, 

There was nothing wrong with me 

Because I embraced myself and who I am, 

Because I do not wish to be anyone else,

Because I know I’m the best American girl I know,

Because I’m unquestionably, unapologetically brown-eyed, brown-haired me

So, I apologize to myself 

For letting me fall in love with someone who isn’t in love with themselves

In the way I have fallen in love with myself.

Querido Corazón by Ellie Gonzalez (Diva Girl Ellie)

Hola Corazón
No te pongas triste
Yo sé que hiciste todo lo que pudiste hacer para continuar latir Corazoncito, no te pongas triste.  Van a pasar muchas más primaveras donde podrás ver las flores dar perfume y color
Querido Corazón
Que nunca se te olvidé que ti naciste para latir y pasar una vida maravillosa y entera llena de felicidad y dar poder a mi cuerpo
No te quiebras corazón
Tienes lo suficiente poder para sobrevivir más de lo que te imaginas
Mi Corazón
Vas a latir más fuerte que nunca
Date tiempo
Pero respira profundamente
Para seguir adelante
Y verás tu hermosa poder.

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Header design by Clarissa Baniecki