Hispanic Heritage Month:By Accident

By Accident
Julia Alvarez

Sometimes I think I became the woman
I am by accident, nothing prepared
the way, not a dramatic, wayward aunt,
or moody mother who read Middlemarch,
or godmother who whispered, "You can be
whatever you want!" and by doing so
performed the god-like function of breathing
grit into me. Even my own sisters
were more concerned with hairdryers and boys
than the poems I recited ad nauseum

in our shared bedrooms when the lights were out.
"You're making me sick!" my sisters would say
as I ranted on, Whitman's Song of Myself
not the best lullaby, I now admit,
or Chaucer in middle English which caused
many a nightmare fight. "Mami!" they'd called,

"She's doing it again!" Slap of slippers
in the hall, door clicks, and lights snapped on.
"Why can't you be considerate for once?"
"I am," I pleaded, "these are sounds, sweet airs . . .

They give delight and--" "Keep it to yourself!"
my mother said, which more than anything
anyone in my childhood advised
turned me to this paper solitude
where I both keep things secret and broadcast
my heart for all the world to read. And so,
through many drafts, I became the woman
I kept to myself as I lay awake
in that dark bedroom with the lonesome sound
of their soft breathing as my sisters slept.


Spread Love. Live life. Be Inspired.
Proud supporter of
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
Julia Alvarez


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