Poetry: Pat Mora's “Legal Alien”

Poetry Foundation

Pat Mora is a Mexican-American poet and writer who has won numerous awards for her books and poetry

People's World - October 2010

This poem, “Legal Alien,” captures an important quality of our evolving and emerging multi-national, multi racial, and multi-ethnic culture.

Legal Alien

by Pat Mora

Bi-lingual, Bi-cultural,
able to slip from “How’s life?”
to “Me’stan volviendo loca,
able to sit in a paneled office
drafting memos in smooth English,
able to order in fluent Spanish
at a Mexican restaurant,
American but hyphenated,
viewed by Anglos as perhaps exotic,
perhaps inferior, definitely different,
viewed by Mexicans as alien,
(their eyes say, “You may speak
Spanish but you’re not like me”)
an American to Mexicans
a Mexican to Americans
a handy token
sliding back and forth
between the fringes of both worlds
by smiling
by masking the discomfort
of being pre-judged
Bi-laterally.

From Chants by Pat Mora, Arte Publico Press

Comments