On the face of it, the poem is about a Puerto Rican grandmother who's looking back over her life. But as the poem progresses, we discover a lot about the culture in which she's lived that life and the many challenges it has presented. The grandmother acknowledges that she made a pact with man and nature to bear children. She chose the life she led. But now that her husband has passed away and her children have flown the nest, she's able to reclaim a life that for so many years was devoted to the needs of others.
Though outwardly conforming to the norms of Puerto Rican culture, the grandmother always wanted to be herself and do her own thing. She dreamed of simple freedoms such as being able to sleep in her own bed without her husband's unwelcome intrusion. Yet it's only now, after a lifetime of drudgery and selfless devotion, that she's finally able to claim what was rightfully hers all along.