By Gary Soto b. 1952 Gary Soto
Wedding night
Graciela bled lightly—
But enough to stain his thighs—
And left an alphabet
Of teeth marks on his arm.
At this, he was happy.
They drank mescal
In bed like the rich
And smoked cigarettes.
She asleep
And the bottle empty, he hid
A few coins in her left shoe,
Earrings in the right.
They worked long hours
Hoeing crooked rows of maize.
Evenings she wove rugs
And embroidered curtains
To market in Taxco.
In short they lived well.
However in the seventh month
With child, her belly
Rising like a portion of the sun,
Something knotted inside her.
The ribs ached. A fever climbed.
Manuel summoned the Partera
And though she burned pepper,
And tied belts around
The stretched belly,
The child did not ease out.
Days later she turned
Onto her belly
And between her legs
Unraveled a spine of blood.

Gary Soto, “Graciela” from The Tale of Sunlight (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1978). Copyright © 1978 by Gary Soto. Reprinted with the permission of the author,

Source: The Tale of Sunlight (1978)

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Poet Gary Soto b. 1952


Subjects The Body, Men & Women, Birth & Birthdays, Living, Relationships, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Gary  Soto


Gary Soto is known for a body of work that deals with the realities of growing up in Mexican-American communities; in poems, novels, short stories, plays and over a two dozen books for young people, Soto has recreated the world of the barrio, the urban, Spanish-speaking neighborhood where he was raised, bringing the sights, sounds and smells vividly to life within the pages of his books. Soto’s poetry and prose focus on everyday . . .

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SUBJECT The Body, Men & Women, Birth & Birthdays, Living, Relationships, Nature


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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