“I think all books are medicine, and and they are meant for a person who has an ailment of a certain kind.”
I’m fifteen the year my English teacher assigns The House on Mango Street for our reading. This was the first book that moved the writer in me, this is the first book that woke me up inside. I remember hiding in my parent’s “big” bathroom (really, quite tiny), and reading in the only private place I could be left alone for more than fifteen minutes. I sat on the toilet and read. I laid down by the bathtub & journaled feverishly, as the magic in me stirred. Never had I ever read a story — up until then — that had let loose the ghost of my inner consciousness, or tapped into my own inner voice & medicine story wisdom. Never before had I consciously seen myself reflected in a story I was reading. It called in something new for me, and I haven’t let that flame blow out.
Five years later, I met Sandra at a Chican@/Latin@ reading at my University. She was the keynote speaker on a night that honored the spirit of the now passed away Chicana Lesbian writer/scholar/activist Gloria Anzaldua (another woman writer/medicine maker/serpent tongue who gave me new life). After the keynote, we went back to the house of one of the profesoras — the head of the Chican@/Latin@ Studies department. I stood next to Sandra on the backyard porch, breathing in the ocean air of Santa Cruz. I spoke to her, though I can’t recall what I said. Just being in her presence, her tattoo-ed presence, her pre-colonial Frida Kahlo presence, was medicine for me that night. I had just lost, that very day, the spirit of my friend’s tia. I was feeling the sting of loss in a way I never had before. And, Sandra was there. There was something about our two dark, quiet, pensive spirits, both in a kind of mourning that night – and she was a comfort to me, as she had been several years before, that night I first met her work.
Today, another ten years have passed. I see how our paths are still aligned, how perhaps, she is the foremother that has created a path for me to walk upon. I’ve never read or heard her speak on our stories as medicine, but this is a knowledge I have recently come to in community — that I carry powerful medicine and that I am meant to bring it into the world through my words.
I honor you, Sandra Cisneros. I thank you for birthing our existence into the world. I thank you for creating the kind of visibility for us (women of color, spirit women, medicine writers, weavers of magic) that changes the course of the world. Thank you for making me possible. Thank you for the artists who let you know that you mattered. Thank you to your mothers and grandmothers, your teachers, your spirit guides. Thank you to your ancestors, and mine. They are mighty & loving, and so are we, because of them.