This piece was published as part of the News’ 2022 Lifting Up Latinx Identity special issue, celebrating Latinx Heritage Month from Sep. 15 to Oct. 15.

This poem is dedicated to my mom, a strong, resilient and beautiful woman from Michoacán, Mexico. It is about the sacrifices my mom has made to support her family. It is also a celebration of all that she has accomplished. Guadalupe Gutierrez is an amazing human being and I hope this poem allows you to get to know her better. 

In a pueblo 

Sways a río 

Grazing cows give it a song 

As the water and dirt meet 

Subtle splashes give tune 

And from a towering stone 

The conductor guides 

The musical pulse 

A metrical rhythm 

Mamá your ensemble composed for only a few years 

Adulthood interrupted your flow at 8 

Before the song went something like 

Arroz con leche, 

Me quiero casar 

Then it was changed to 

Tamales a 7 pesos, 

Morisqueta a 9 

45 years ago 

The río lost its jingle 

You visited it only on your long days 

To prepare for miles of child labor

Paths of dirt 

Where the only melody 

Cried from your heavy feet 

Mamá your music was the closest you got to Childhood 

No dressing up a doll 

And giving her a name 

No plucking Earth’s gifts 

To make caldito de tierra, agua, y pasto 

Your Papá said they are business 

Nothing more 

No sinking in a plastic pool 

On a desert-like afternoon 

Your Papá siad it is a day of business 

Nothing more 

En la primaria 

You suppressed the feelings you had for bright-eyed Mario Your Mamá said boys lead to a panza 

A panza that won’t let you scream and sell 

45 years ago 



Dismounted the stone 

Because your songs were sold to 

A life of toil 




Mamá you grew up too quick 

In another life 

At 8 years old 

Little Lupita would 

Race with the pueblo’s stray dogs Until her lungs 

Denied the sour air 

She’d lay in 

The nearest patch of green 

To let the southern sun burn 

Until she melted into 

A perfect bronze medal 

The one she would deserve 

But never receive 

At 14 years old 

Young Lupe would 

Plan a red quinceañera 

Shop for the dress of her princess dreams And gold hoops that 

Drag her perky ears 

And heels as 

Tall as her pride 

So high

Every step 

Would be even more powerful than the last She’d sing corridos 

About the drugs she’d never take 

And the men she’d never desire 

She’d be smothered in kisses 

From her papás 

Telling her she’s a blessing 

And so much more 

Than business 

Mamá today you are living your teenage dream Your 16 Wishes 

A 13 Going on 30 fantasy 

Except more like 52 Going on 18 

So I smile everytime you lift your phone A few inches away from your face 

To take a selfie 

With a filter 

That hides your manchas 

Your worry wrinkles 

A reflection that makes you feel 17 Again Through the screen you see 

The Lupe you desire to be 

A reflection of 

Microbladed brows

Soft skin 

Shining under eyes 


And perfectly carved metallic eyeliner That calls out my name 


Como te pones las pestañas postizas 

Mamá I wish you 

Saw the beauty and strength we all see Your mamá didn’t read you bed time stories Teach you the ruthlessness of racists Raging men 

Or the repulsive truths of reality 

And yet 

You made a life of your own 

By your own 

Planted your seeds in los estados 

To watch them grow into 

Enchiladas made on a gas stove 

Water running through the pipes of your home Gifts under the Christmas tree 

Your Mamá’s smile on FaceTime 

And four 

What you call 

Hijos de la chingada

All inspired 



Mothered by you 

45 years ago 

The pueblo stopped smiling 

The río stopped dancing 

Earth no longer chimed 

Mamá the world begs for you to compose again Necesitamos tu música 

Para verte 

Bailar y cantar 

Aprender y gozar 

Amar y volar

This spoken poem was first performed live at La Casa Cultural’s LatinXcellence showcase. Zenaida Aguirre Gutierrez is a junior in Branford College from Los Angeles, California. She can be reached at .