Steel and Poem

Topics: Steel, Poetry, Stanza Pages: 6 (1956 words) Published: April 2, 2013
Analysis of Pat Mora's "La Migra"

Pat Mora's "La Migra" is a poem presenting two speakers, one female and one male, who are playing the game "La Migra" which means "border patrol agents". Mora creates a snapshot of the dangers of living near the Mexican border through the narrators' "game". The poem is written with childish language, but includes ambiguity of whether the players are children approaching a disturbingly mature theme or whether they're adults trying to minimize the stress of the situation. Despite both interpretations being decently supported by the text, I support the first for a few key reasons.

The piece is broken into two parts, I and II, which clearly defines there being two speakers. Each section presents a different version of the same game-the first is from the masculine perspective where the female is "the Mexican maid" (3) whom he can sexually assault because he has boots, handcuffs, and a gun (15-17). The second is the female perspective where, despite the patrol man's power, his "jeep has a flat" (22) and he doesn't speak Spanish so he's unable to interpret the woman saying where there is water.

Straightforwardly the speakers present themselves as young since they're playing a game. Furthermore, there's the hesitation of the boy not knowing exactly his weapons beyond his masculinity. He shows this saying, "Oh, and [I have] a gun" (17). Because of his age he doesn't completely understand the sexuality he's mentioning. Instead of referring to assault he minimizes it to the ability to touch her wherever he wants. This also shows a child's curiosity of the anatomy of the opposite sex.

Readers may interpret the speakers as adult because of the intense subject matter. However, children are more aware of violence than they should be and I don't think it's unlikely for them to play a sexualized game. Our society is widely conservative and desexualizes children, but that's not necessarily true. Therefore this poem is a good representation of how children do interpret sex.

The poem shows a scenario for female empowerment which I believe Mora projects onto a young girl to symbolize hope for the next generation. The phrase, "Oh, I am not alone" (30) shows the solidarity the girl is already beginning to conceptualize in her female elders.


I think this poem is about a mother who is always graded by her family and feels unappreciated for all that she does for them. She knows that she could improve as a mother but she doesn't even want to because of the way her family treats her. Pastan uses an extended metaphor for the whole poem comparing her performances and actions to a report card from her family's grading. I think Pastan feels like nothing she does is good enough so she uses sarcasm to express her depression and fed up attitude. I think she wants her readers to feel empathy for her and resent her family. The shift occurs when she says that she's going to "drop out". The title stands for the "marks" or grades that her family gives her. The theme is you never know what you have until it's gone.

I think a lot of mothers feel this way and Pastan is about to have a mental break down. I like this poem in a way because it shows how women are unappreciated but I don't like how her family grades her. She's human and not a report card and for her family to grade her is just mean. If my husband told me a was a B+ in bed I would tell him where to stick it.

The Marks that once marked her life

Linda Pastan's Poem "Marks" portrays a woman who expresses her frustrations of being a housewife and a mother in her family. The one word that seems to dictate the entire poem is "marks." According to the Oxford Dictionary there are multiple meanings for this word, but I chose four that were interesting to consider: 1) A number or letter denoting excellence, conduct, proficiency, etc. 2) A boundary, frontier, or limit; a land within or near certain boundaries. 3) A visible trace or...
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