Spoken word: ‘She Tells Me’ by Ashley Pineda

This piece placed third for high school spoken word submissions in the 2023 Ánimo Voices Writing and Art Competition, which invited students to respond to the open prompt “About Joy” The competition is an opportunity to motivate, recognize, and celebrate our strong student voices through writing, spoken word, and art.

She Tells Me

Laying in my bed getting lost through the words of literature late at night
Just as I do in the many stories of my grandmother
Or her lectures

She tells me
That I have everything I need unlike her

She tells me
The story of how she and my grandfather immigrated to this country with my dad, uncles and 11-month old aunt in her

She tells me
Every detail of how they had to hide under a cactus tree so that border patrol wouldn’t find them

She tells me
How she constantly had to tell my uncle “que bajara la cabeza”
But just as a curious 4 year old would
he wouldn’t listen because he heard a huge bird humming in the sky

She tells me
That after crossing the border line she hid with her 4 children in the back of a truck and my grandfather instructed her
that if he doesn’t return with the coyote, to drive the truck and don’t look back
But he came back with a gallon of milk for his children and she said they drove down that road awaiting their future,
awaiting the American Dream that Friday morning.

she gives me
Much more harsh but beautiful lectures that come with words like “como mujer te tienes que dar valorar, no eres
basura y no debes dejar que traten como si lo fueras”
These words engraved into my mind I carry myself with morals and value myself greatly

Cooking is one of my love languages thanks to her
All of the recipes she has passed down to me but never will they ever be the same as hers
The recipe I know that will always stick with me is that one of strength and resilience

Even after being sexually assaulted
Feeling his cold but familiar hands on my skin
Tarnishing my innocence
I kept pushing
And I let God y la Virgencita guide me and hold my hand throughout the many years

I also held my own hand, I comforted myself in the shower, in the only place I could be alone feeling the scorching
hot water on my back because the feeling and disgusting touch would not disappear

I did it
I survived
I'm a survivor and I could not have done it without Kathy
That little girl deserves the world and I’m going to give it to her

It's fuck you hermanito querido, te odio
Pero así es la vida
Ni modo
Y aunque la vida me pisotea
siempre me levantare

Ashley Pineda



Ashley Pineda

12th Grade, Ánimo South Los Angeles Charter High School

Guiding Teacher: Chanti Burnette