Monica Pedraza



Monica Pedraza is a Mexican American poet from Orange County, California. When she is not writing, you can find her hiking, eating chocolate chip cookies, or reading The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, for the hundredth time. Her poem, “Cajita de madera” can be found in the Winter 2019 issue of UCI’s literary journal, New Forum.

IG: mony.pony_

Mi abuelo, el bracero

Gently, you make a fist,
and open it up again
and again, you practice your hand exercises
slowly, to loosen the stiffness and pain. 

It was then when I saw
the scar hidden across your palm,
like a burnt map you’ve kept folded,
how heavy does it feel? 

In school,
I had a new vocab word,

You told me, “Yes,
that’s the story of my scar
and the stiffness and the pain
that’s why you live here 

And your grandmother,
she was resilient,
kept the kicking companion a secret
underneath her baggy T-shirt because
nothing stopped her
from picking strawberries in the sun.
You can still see the dirt underneath her fingernails. 

Though our foreheads shone brighter
than the pennies we got
we didn’t complain ‘cause
look at where we are,
look at where
you are.” 

You tilted your head, to wink at me and
proudly, you leaned back into the sofa,
opened your palm again and
tightened your fist.


105 calle del Ángel 


I still remember when we used to call it Ama’s
y había casa llena, the living room felt small, 

we were so many, apachrados en un sillón,
sitting on the floor, getting our hair braided, 

snooping through every door unlocked, or
sneaking for snacks in the cupboard. 

I still remember when Ama would sit me on her lap,
year after year, she surprised me with her strength. 

Con un abrazo apretado, she held me with her heart,
whispered in my ear, “te quiero un chingo.” 

And I could hear her teeth
tap dancing in her mouth. 


I still remember when we used to call it Ama’s,
Pero no regresó—and It felt foreign to studder and say it was Apa’s. 

Nothing in the house belonged to her anymore,
ni las joyas, ni los retratos, ni las muñecas o rosarios, 

Like we were erasing her,
as the earth had done. 


I search for her magic within the house,
seeing how the walls never change their expression, 

even as they are painted from red to yellow, white, and blue,
a soft stoicism created by a blend of tough love and passive ghosts. 

I find purple and orange pansies, a white Alcatraz,
deep green nopales, and rows of trees pregnant with fruit. 

On a bright blue bookshelf crowded with trinkets,
campanas y cazos de cobre, 

I find her magic, in the way you can find
everything you ever wanted in the kitchen, 

from tequila shots to lollipops,
even when it looks like the fridge is always empty. 


There is an absence at the head of the table,
and too many empty chairs. 

The living room feels big and
I feel we often forget to forgive, 

like we forget to close a bag of chips,
until they become too stale to savor. 


Searching the walls was never as warm
as when I saw her reflection in your eyes. 

I remember her embrace in your kindness,
her sweet laugh when we are at peace 

y te quiero un chingo.

© The Acentos Review 2020