Paisano Poets: ‘Gueli’

Ana Cecilia Martinez, Managing Editor

I’m sorry I haven’t called.

I swear I hear your voice

In my head so often telling me,

“Mi hija, cuídate mucho!”


And I have. I take care of the resilient,

sarcastic, and anxious mess of a person

you call your hija, not your nieta because

you love me like you love your hijas.


I call you mama, never abuela,

because you are my mama.

I call you when my head is heavy

and I know I’m the first you call too.


I know because you raised me.

You raised me to be cabezona and 

to never take no as an answer because

I carry your persistence in my blood.


So I fight the world with your grace

in my mind to remind myself that I am

just like you, mama, and my madre—

una mujer chingona, hija de mujeres chingonas.


But mujeres chingonas are busy,

so I’m sorry I haven’t called.

I’ve been too busy being just like you.

Tell me then, mama, how are you?