Poem by Carmen Tafolla, Inaugural Poet Laureate of San Antonio

Carmen Tafolla is the award-winning author of more than twenty books, for both children and adults, and has received numerous recognitions and literary awards, the most recent being named by Mayor Julián Castro as the Inaugural Poet Laureate of San Antonio. San Antonio is the first major city in Texas to name a Poet Laureate. A native San Antonian from a family who has lived here for more generations than our recorded history, Tafolla teaches at the University of Texas San Antonio, where she is Writer-in-Residence for Children’s, Youth, & Transformative Literature.

San Antonio is a young Yanaguana woman

By Carmen Tafolla


all spirit, strength and spark

her skin a cinnamon summer, an autumn pecan

her eyes steady stars in October’s dark sky

arms graceful as weeping willow branches

she unravels her hair

that long dark wave of a river

winding, winding right through our hearts

pouring clear through our dreams

that’s when she sings

in ancient rhythms of her native tongue

unconquered tunes twirled like mesquite bark

gnarled like the centuries of river oak

shaping the gentleness of buffalo grass

the wildness of wind

a melody trickling cool as river water


San Antonio is a

young strong

Yanaguana woman

who learned Spanish

and then English

and then Tex-Mex

or German, Vietnamese, Czech, Greek, Karén

and a hundred other flowing tongues

to lull the child to sleep


San Antonio is a

young strong smart

Yanaguana woman

who sings chants calls declaims exalts

in all the languages

of her embroidered rebozo

bordado con colors and cultures

but never once forgets

the hum and the rumble

of her still-growing









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