Poem, Como Duele

One of the earliest meditations on Malinche and her meaning published by a Chicana in the United States. This narrative explores Malinche’s fate and her abilities to negotiate difficult and competing cultural demands. It also grapples with the violence of colonization—in history, in Mexico and in the United States. The history it evokes is the intertwined history of indigenous and Chicana people, with Malinche as the figure who binds the Aztec past to the 20th-century present.

Source: Sosa-Riddell, Adaljiza. “Como Duele.” 1973. In Infinite Divisions: An Anthology of Chicana Literature. Edited by Tey Diana Rebolledo and Eliana Rivero. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1993. First published in El Grito, Berkeley, CA.

Como Duele
Adaljiza Sosa-Riddell

Ese, vato, I saw you today
en Los y Sacra
en Santa Barbara, Sanfra
and everywhere else.
You walked, Chicano chulo,
eagle on your jacket,
y “carnales y carnalas,”
y “Que Viva la Raza.”

But where were you when
I was looking for myself?
As if I didn’t know.
Where the MAN and
all his pendejadas
sent you,

To Dartmouth, Los Angeles City College,
Barber’s School, La Pinta,
Korea, and Vietnam; too many of you
returned wrapped como enchiladas
in red, white, and blue.

A Chicano at Dartmouth?
I was at Berkeley, where,
there were too few of us
and even less of you.
I’m not even sure
that I really looked for you.

I heard from many rucos
that you
would never make it.
You would hold me back;
From What?
From what we are today?
Pinche, como duele ser Malinche.

My name was changed, por la ley.
Probrecitos, they believed in me,
That I was white enough
to stay forever,
that I would never find you again.

I found you, Chicano,
but only for a moment,
Never para siempre.
Temilotzin died the morning after,
It’s too late.
The world does not wait
for indecision,
neither do Chicanos.

And mis pobres padres
taught me
not to hurt
others too much.
Malinche, pinche,
forever with me;

I was born out of you,
I walk beside you,
bear my children with you,
for sure, I’ll die
alone with you.

Perhaps I died before,
when I said good-bye
al barrio y al Cruiser.
He went to road camp,
por grifo y peleonero.
While I was saved—
for what?

Pinche, como duele ser Malinche.
Pero sabes, ese,
what keeps me from shattering
into a million fragments?
It’s that sometimes,
you are el hijo de la Malinche, too.