edited by Sean Enfield
Today’s featured writer, Alejandra Ramos Gómez, is a bilingual educator and a poet who is very active in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. In addition to her education advocacy, which includes a very moving TEDx she gave at SMU, she also co-hosts Meet Me With Curiosity in Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park with fellow Spiderfriends, Paul Koniecki and Reverie Evolving. Alejandra first performed with Spiderweb Salon last summer at the Radio Poets: Live showcase. Recently, she joined us to help rally Denton voters at our Voter Revolution event hosted by Backyard on Bell.
We are bringing you two of Alejandra’s language-blending poems. Both poems are gripping, drawing from personal experience to show us the dualities of its subjects. Alejandra’s poems move between borders, across worlds, and into the depths of the soul, evoking something spiritual in the reader in that way that only a great poem can.
Of the poems, she writes, “I wrote the Spanish version of the first poem during my first year living in Dallas. I grew up in the border and binationality was normal to me, I would study in El Paso and cross back to Mexico to spend time with friends and family. It was not until I moved to Dallas 4 years ago that I truly understood how important my heritage and culture was to me. I struggled a lot assimilating to the US, it was hard for me to make friendships and feel like I belonged. This poem was a way to express how I felt and the uniqueness of living in the border.
I wrote the second poem this summer. Mental health is a difficult topic to address in the Latino community, it was very hard for my mother to understand that I was struggling with depression. It took her many years to understand that I was not exaggerating. This summer, I went to my neurologist and therapist in Mexico and I was finally diagnosed. This was a cathartic moment for my emotional and spiritual growth.”
Soy de aquí, pero también soy de allá
Born on the border, no fear to cross,
México es mi tierra y Estados Unidos mi hogar.
There is no way to decide,
Ni tampoco es una necesidad.
Both lands saw me grow and prosper,
En ellas me crié, crecí y me enfrente.
Juárez breaths binationality and diversity,
Our incomparable border, our unique border.
I grew up in an inimitable place,
La frontera es algo diferente.
Crossing every day to get to work,
Coming back to reunite with loved ones.
Un río nos separa,
Nonetheless, an identity unites us.
Resilient and strong people,
Immigrants, that’s who we are.
Gente sin miedo, gente resiliente,
We are part of binationality.
Where are you from?
I am from here… and from there.
¿De dónde eres?
Soy de aquí, pero también soy de allá.
Soy latina y bipolar
I hold my mother’s hand as a sign of strength and support,
And we finally cry because the mystery was solved.
Years and years of ups and downs, sadness, ambitions,
Obsession, and internal conversations that would never finalize.
I spent too many years trying to convince the inner Nadxielii
That we would make it, that the suicidal thoughts would fade away.
Rodeada de un mundo de personas,
Me sentí más sola que nunca.
Being on the edge became the norm, became the regular me.
Therapy, poetry, dance, art,
I did as much as I could just to keep myself alive.
One day, it was simply not enough.
I imagined a life alone,
Apart from the ones I love.
I felt toxic, misunderstood, dramatic, repetitive, and obsessive.
Mi alma estaba fuera de control.
Pachamama, ven a salvarme.
Mother earth is with me everywhere I go.
The plane ride felt eternal because it was my last resource,
Upon my arrival, my family consoled my soul.
Soy mexicana y mi familia no quería ver la realidad.
I begged for help, my tears screamed desperation.
Eso se te va a pasar, ocúpate en algo más para dejar de pensar.
My family suggested more work to keep my mind busy
But mother, that is the real problem.
My mind is eternally busy, how do I make it stop?
Days and days passed,
Blood tests, doctors, more tests.
I was tested physically to uncover issues emotionally,
Back in the US and I still felt the same.
One call changed my life,
The problem is real and it is in my brain.
Two simple words that healed a lifetime
Of suffering and isolation.
My breath will never be the same.
Mi aliento fluye,
My breath flows
My breath lives,
My breath changes,
Mi aliento es cambiante.
I hold my mother’s hand to heal my sadness,
And thank her for leaving cultural prejudice behind.
Soy latina, bipolar y finalmente feliz.
Alejandra is a bilingual educator and performing artist born and raised in Juarez, Mexico. She earned her BA in Political Science and Linguistics from the University of Texas at El Paso and her Masters in Bilingual Education from Southern Methodist University. She is currently a two-way dual language gifted and talented K-1st teacher with Dallas ISD and an educational consultant with Galapagos Conservancy Fund at Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Alejandra is a Teach for America DFW alumna and was recently named 2018 Millennial to Watch on the Dallas Weekly. She delivered a TEDx talk about how poetry influenced her approach to education at TEDxKids@SMU in 2017. As a writer, her work can be found in three anthologies with the Writers’ Association in Juarez, Mexico, and Pasos en el Norte, an anthology by Rotary International. She recently contributed in a chapter book with Voces Writers through the Oak Cliff Coalition for Arts in Dallas, TX. Alejandra is also a member of Teatro Flor Candela Theatre Company as an actress and dancer.
Be sure to check out Spiderweb’s other featured artists here! Interested in sharing your work with the Spiderweb Salon editors? We want to read what you’ve got! Send your good stuff to our submissions page here.