Mixtec is a language spoken by indigenous people in Mexico, but it is very difficult to write. You may read the poem in English and Spanish, but you may listen to audio in all three languages.

Aquí, por la mañana, sentado, viendo cómo voy a resolver el trabajo, entre todos los alumnos que hablan inglés mientras el olor es neutro y triste.
Allí, sentada en el sofá desayunando chilaquiles de olor picante con mi madre, mientras veo televisión y escucho a mi hermano pequeño reírse de mí.

Here, in the morning, sitting, seeing how I am going to solve the work, among all the students who speak English while the smell is neutral and sad.

There, sitting on the couch having spicy-smelling chilaquiles for breakfast with my mother, while I watch TV and listen to my little brother laughing at me.

Aquí, en el almuerzo comiendo las habituales patatas aliñadas con olor a pimentón con el mismo sabor seco, mientras hablo y miro por la ventana el día ventoso y el cielo azul pálido.

Allí, viendo Granja Zenón con mi hermano pequeño, le decimos hormigita, mientras mi mamá prepara unas ricas botanas con frijoles negros, mientras la casa se llena de un delicioso olor a cebolla, queso y tomates verdes.

Here, at lunch eating the usual, seasoned potatoes with the smell of paprika with the same dry taste, while I talk and look out the window at the windy day and pale blue sky.

There, watching Granja Zenon with my little brother, we call him hormigita, or Little Ant, while my mother prepares some delicious snacks with black beans, while the house is filled with a delicious smell of onion, cheese, and green tomatoes.

Aquí hay una regla de no usar celulares, no entretenerse, mantenerse concentrado mientras los demás estudiantes conversan en inglés, sin entender nada de lo que explican.
Allí, limpiando la casa con mi mamá mientras hablamos en mixteco y español, entendiendo todo, sin preocuparnos de cometer errores.

Here, there is a rule of not using cell phones, not entertaining yourself, staying focused while the other students converse in English, without understanding a single thing they explain.

There, cleaning the house with my mother while we talk in Mixtec and Spanish, understanding everything, without any worry of making mistakes.

Aquí las horas pasan lentamente, mientras el cansancio domina el cuerpo mientras agarras el lápiz, con ganas de dormir y que las horas pasen rápido.

Allí las horas pasan veloces cuando empujo un carrito verde con hormigita y ayudo a mi madre en lo que puedo, deseando que el día dure mucho más, con tanta energía.

Here, the hours pass slowly, while fatigue dominates the body while you grab the pencil, wanting to sleep and for the hours to pass quickly.

There, the hours go by swiftly when I push a little green car with hormigita and help my mother as much as I can, wanting the day to last much longer, with so much energy.

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November 28, 2023 2:59 pm

Dear Sherlyn,

I am intrigued by your poem contrasting your life in Cubalibre, Pueblo, Mexico and Brooklyn, NY  because I am interested in why people leave their homes, and what they gain, and what they lose.  I also am fascinated by your native language, Mixtec, which I had never heard before!

One line of your poem that stood out for me was, “fatigue dominates the body…” I think this is sad but understandable because I know that when things are too difficult, it can be very hard on the body.  We always want to try to make things a little difficult but not too much, but when you change countries and languages, it is impossible.

Your writing connects to my own experience. For me, I had an experience this year where I had to work very hard at something I had not learned or become good at yet.  It was exhausting, and it affected my mood in a significant way.  It was not an easy experience.

Thanks for your work on Youth Voices. I look forward to seeing what you write next because you have had such a beautiful life so far, and I know you are still looking for some of that beauty in Brooklyn, but I know you will find it soon.


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