Esperanza

By Judith Ortiz Cofer b. 1952
My name mocks me
for I was born at the cost
of my mother’s life,
earning my father’s hatred
with my first breath.
All my life
I have scoured a house soiled
with the thick soot of his resentment.
It has left its mark on the walls,
in his eyes, and on me.
All of it I have tried to wipe away.
In my hands I hold a broom,
in my heart—
ashes, ashes.

Judith Ortiz Cofer, “Esperanza” from Terms of Survival. Copyright © 1987 by Judith Ortiz Cofer. Reprinted by permission of Arte Público Press.

Source: Terms of Survival (Arte Público Press, 1987)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Judith Ortiz Cofer b. 1952

POET’S REGION Caribbean

Subjects Living, Death, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Judith Ortiz Cofer

Biography

Judith Ortiz Cofer was born in Hormigueros, a small town in Puerto Rico. When she was a young child her father’s military career took the family to Paterson, New Jersey, but she often spent her childhood traveling back and forth between Puerto Rico and the U.S. At 15, her family moved again, this time to Augusta, Georgia, where she eventually earned a BA in English from Augusta College. She later earned an MA in English from . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

POET’S REGION Caribbean

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.