Madelyne Rose Sosa-Jaramillo


Little girl sits in the back of a nail salon/She lost something and is calling for her mother from the other end of the room/And wants her to perform the magic mothers do/Walking into rooms and suddenly making things appear/Her mama tells her to wait till she finishes her job/She listens but is still/Talking with her mother about something and nothing and everything/Mama laughs and tells me they remind her of us 


Us/Mama and I/Once calling car rides home/Mama tired but picking up extra shifts/Me wearing her sweater to feel safe on the first day of my first job/My coworkers asking why I was working so much so young/And I never knew how to say that I was working full time at 16/Hoping that if I brought home enough/Maybe our bills would seem smaller/The room we shared would feel bigger/And maybe mama wouldn’t worry so much about how steady the roof over our heads was


I see myself in her/The little girl who adores her mother/Who calls the rough hands of a working woman fine china/Who hopes that one day she’ll do something right enough her mama could maybe never have to work overtime/But instead sip coffee and watch the sunrise when she wakes up early/A young girl who will one day go on dates and stare potential lovers in the eye/Wondering what her mother would think of them/A young girl who will one day grow up and start to feel like the more people she meets/The more days any language which is not English will always sound something like home/Who may not know it now but one day will say/Everything she has/All that she is/Is because of her mother/Is because of the immigrant dream/Because her very life/Her laugh/Her smile/Her tears/Her pain/The very space she takes up/Is the better life that was dreamt up for her/And that just like her mother she will grow to have/The fine china like hands of the working woman/The universe in her bloodstream/The moon in her soul/And that just like her mother she is/The dream/The sound of a revolution/Of resistance/And the universe/In the shape of a woman


by Madelyne Rose


Madelyne Rose Sosa-Jaramillo


Can we be Colombia and Venezuela

California and Mexico

Can we always be arms length away

Let the flowers we grow always share the same soil

Our hands forever entwined like roots

Could you stretch for me like trees over countries 

As we dance like leaves in the air 

Laughing at all the borders


Armed soldiers

And dictators which try and separate us

And if I am the sea

Always flowing between lands

Could you be the shore I always come crashing to

The sand which my tide kisses

Beneath suns and moons

Decorated in seashells

Like a fallen blanket of stars upon ground

Could you be-

Broken borders

Fallen walls

A kiss where bricks once stood

And can we be invincible 

Like immigrant dreams

The promise of a new beginning

The faith of two lovers who refuse to be pulled apart

But most of all, could you be-

The land I always come home to

Because we’ve always been the same tierrita all along


by Madelyne Rose

Para Rosita, Mar. 1965

Madelyne Rose Sosa-Jaramillo


You stand there in black and white
Hair teased 

Made holy with Aqua Net 

Eyebrows perfectly arched 

Pearls draped around your neck

Lips like a half moon above your chin

You smile in a way that’s soft and stern

And it’s the kind of look only a mother could have

Para Rosita you scrawl on the back of this photo dated Mar. 1965

Cut small enough to fit in one's wallet

Or maybe just to hold in the palm of one’s hands

So that when the ones you love are homesick 

Para tus ojos tristes y dulce corazón

They can open their hands 

Look above their palm lines

And find you looking back at them

Sending a besito behind your subtle smile
And maybe when you took this photo you were thinking about how 

You were never meant to live forever 

But maybe a picture can

And maybe somehow you already knew 

That one day diseases would be the thieves of your last breaths 

That they’d make you a stranger to your own reflection

Take your once electric eyes and hang circles below them like curtains 

So you took this photo 

Para Rosita, Mar. 1965


Let this always be the way I'm remembered 

Making home in a tierra that’s a stranger

With a face young and soft 

Yet still a hurricane 

And in this Polaroid you become

Mi Mona Lisa Guatemalteca

Para siempre


And in time this photo makes its way to your grand daughters phone case 2018

Where people carry pictures of their novios

I carry this photo of you instead

Para que siempre estas a mi lado

Para que siempre estas a mi alcance 

So that maybe somehow 

I can never have you leave me

And maybe we could somehow find a way to cheat the diseases 

Which are taking you away from me

The one which makes you forget who you are

The one which eats at the butterflies in your tummy
And should we win 

Figure out how to pull a cure from our sleeves like a hidden card in a poker game 

I'd become a gambler of the universe

Figure out all its secrets

Keep notes of every treasure and cheat inside my pocket journal

Then we could win every round

And I'd never have to learn what life is like 

Without you in it 

Never have to learn who I am

Without you beside me



You taught me that Spanish 

Would never be the language which would hurt me

It’d never be the one delivering the news that I wasn't good enough 

Attributed to broken hearts and failed papers

Spanish was always your sweetheart 

It was always overhearing the chisme between you and the neighbor upstairs 

Or making the world's best oatmeal 

Laughing in the kitchen 

Watching a novela 

And me walking through the door, my existence finally being just enough 

To make you proud of me 

Spanish has and always will be

A hug from two arms are which are always open 

A tamal Guatemalteco 

Warm pan dulce

A house with a door which never closes

Spanish is you 

Your voice always something soft and smooth 

Like melting honey 

Sticky with “I love you's”


Who am I cuando te olvides que soy tu nieta? 

Who am I 

When I can’t sit at the kitchen table with you? 

Sunlight spilling in from the windows

Panito before us

Coffee getting cold as you ramble on about something and nothing and everything 

Fumbling through the flyers from El Super

Pointing to fruits that remind you of Guatemala

Telling me stories of your days growing up beneath its endless blue skies and aguacate trees

Who am I 

When I can't argue that you drink too much soda and not enough water? 

What do I make of myself when I can't count on falling asleep on your shoulder in the back seat? 

Or knowing that you'll always have a little candy, wrapped like a strawberry, in your pockets for every car ride

Who do I call on the phone and ramble on to in broken Spanish about my nothings

 If I can't count on you always being on the other end of the phone line? 

With a sweet hello

One of the only words you accepted from English

Who will grab my arm as I walk down the street if you're not beside me?

Where do I find Heaven on Earth if it’s breaking its lease? 

If it can no longer be in your apartment

Eating tamales Guatemaltecos till my belly is stuffed

Yet still ending the day con panito y cafecito

Or waking up to find you talking to your bird as the sun rises 



What becomes of this world if you're not in it? 

Aren't you the last of the sabor in it? Will the days grow more quiet?  

Will novelas lose their luster? Will pan dulce be a little less sweet?

Will I lose a part of me?

 How will I know I'm becoming the kind of woman who makes you proud? 

And then what becomes of me when I cannot reach to sky knowing that we’re taking up the same space? 

Sharing the same stars

 Picking flowers that no matter the distance

 Have roots which are somehow still connected to each other

What will I do without you? 

Who am I?

When all that's left of you is memories and your eternal photo


Para Rosita, Mar. 1965


by Madelyne Rose