virgen, por vida. #31daysIBPOC 2023

These are songs of praise, songs of belonging, songs of family, faith, & joy. Of all the blessings of being born to my people, of all the blessings of having a personal compass pointing south, I am blessed to have been raised with the Virgen de Guadalupe in my life.

I’ve heard the jokes about how frequently she appears in the most unlikely places (tattooed arms, back windows of trucks, miraculous tortillas, etc. etc.), and I’ve probably laughed at a few of them. What’s no joke, though, is being raised to know where you belong, to know where to turn, and to know that when things are difficult, there is a lady full of love who will ruega por nosotros (that is, who will pray / beg for us).

The first piece is about the Virgen pendant I got for my thirteenth birthday. The second is about a life of stages of faith & doubt, but a life where the Virgen endured as a light & an example.

Ave Maria. Por vida.

On my thirteenth birthday, we crossed the border. Starched guayaberas
& dress slacks, shined shoes reflecting the high summer sun.
As often happened when we were down in the valley, 
we occupied an entire room to feed the extended family.
Passing elote stands &  kids selling chiclets, a neighborhood dusty
& busy. In Miguel Alemán, we were comfortable but conspicuous.
Clearly there for the day. A luxurious & easy crossing,
lower prices & local color. We took up the whole
sidewalk, loudly, happily. My gran'pa paid for the whole thing, 
including this Virgen I wear still. "Mi'jo, que dios te bendiga." 

Before I grew into doubt & anger, disappointment & disgust
with the church, I prayed daily to
Virgin Mary.

She was calm & beautiful, her pain serene,
not a crown of

Let it be done to me--disarming
service & bodily yielding, faithful, maternal & beautiful,
clothed in the stars & sky, atop the moon.
Pray for me, Mary. I will be good. 


This blog post is part of the #31DaysIBPOC Blog Series, a month-long movement to feature the voices of indigenous and teachers of color as writers and scholars. "Virgen" arose from an exercise with students--one memory, ten lines, ten words each; "Ave Maria" from another exercise--one object, ten lines, line length depending on the digits in your phone number. That is, if your area code is 214, line one is two words long, line two is one word long, and line three is four words long, etc. Here's a thing I wrote for the series a few years ago. 

Please CLICK HERE to read yesterday’s blog post by Agnes Lopez. Please CLICK HERE to be uplifted by the rest of the blog series.

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