Online Texts for Craig White's Literature Courses

Pat Mora

Seņora X No More

Pat Mora, b. 1942, El Paso TX

Straight as a nun I sit.
My fingers foolish before paper and pen
hide in my palms. I hear the slow, accented echo
How are yu? I ahm fine. How are yu?
of the other women who clutch notebooks and blush                         5
at their stiff lips resisting
sounds that float graceful as
bubbles from their children's mouths.

My teacher bends over me, gently squeezes
my shoulders, the squeeze I give my sons,                                        10
hands louder than words.
She slides her arms around me:
a warm shawl, lifts my left arm
onto the cold, lined paper.

"Seņora, don't let it slip away," she says                                            15
and opens the ugly, soap-wrinkled fingers of my right hand
with a pen like I pry open the lips of a stubborn grandchild.
My hand cramps around the thin hardness.
"Let it breathe," says this woman who knows

my hand and tongue knot, but she guides                                          20
and I dig the tip of my pen into that white.
I carve my crooked name, and again at night
until my hand and arm are sore,
I carve my crooked name,
my name.                                                                                            25