Andra Mihali CC
NUESTRA SEÑORA DE GUADALUPE
Our Lady is a brown-skinned girl
who lives in the projects, top floor, no elevator,
no A/C in the summer, patchy heat
in the winter. Her grandmother raised her
on adobo and rice and laughter and hugs
and a knowledge of dignity
in a world full of shame.
Our Lady is a black girl with black hair,
smarter than most kids on her block,
best dancer at community center Zumba,
fascinated by lava lamps, grossed out
by the smell of her brother’s joints,
feisty enough to scold him for second-hand smoke,
kind to the kid eating alone in the lunch room.
Our Lady is the single mom who knows
what it’s like to be a pregnant teen,
scared, working two jobs, all eyes judging,
so many doors closing, choosing between
a jug of milk and a commuter card, going
to night school to keep going, keep going,
all her strength needed to stay on track.
Our Lady is the user who feels like she failed
the unemployed girl beaten up behind closed doors,
the sex worker putting herself through school,
and the sex worker who doesn’t want to be one,
the domestic helper assaulted by rich bosses,
the mani/pedicurist who only cries at night,
the model who makes herself throw up every day.
Our Lady is the queen of heaven and earth
or deserves to be, if people could only see her
as she really is; she crushes the serpent
under her heel, binds wounds, heals ills,
knows every sorrow, is worthy of love;
she is the undoer of knots, mediatrix
of all graces, star of the sea, cause of our joy.
Isabel Cristina Legarda was born in the Philippines and spent her early childhood there before moving to the U.S. She is now a practicing physician in Boston. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in in America, Ruminate, The New York Quarterly, Smartish Pace, FOLIO, The Good Life Review, and others.
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