Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 271
In Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X, Xiomara Batista is a teenager in Harlem, NY. She has grown taller than most people around her and filled into her body, and this makes her feel more noticeable, and not necessarily in a way that she likes. In the poem “Unhide-able,” Acevedo writes:
When your body takes up more room than your voice
you are always the target of well-aimed rumors,
which is why I let my knuckles talk for me.
In the poem “Mira, Muchacha,” Xiomara talks about feeling unheard. At home, her mother wants to make sure that she is living up to her expectations, which include not talking to boys. Her mother yells at her because she heard from someone else that Xiomara was talking to the drug dealers that hang out around their building. Xiomara wants to tell her mother that she wasn’t talking to them, the boys had stopped her and talked to her, but her mother is talking at her, and when she is gone, Xiomara says:
Sometimes I want to tell her, the only person in this house
who isn’t heard is me.
In the poem “Names,” Xiomara talks about her name, which her mother thought was a saint’s name, but which really means, “one who is ready for war.” She says that although this is not what her mother intended, it is fitting for the person that she is. She says:
My parents probably wanted a girl who would sit in the pews
wearing pretty florals and a soft smile.
They got combat boots and a mouth silent
until it’s sharp as an island machete.