Writing: ‘Letter to my Mother’ by Brianna Castillo

This piece placed third for High School Writing submissions in the 2024 Ánimo Voices WRITING, ART, & SPOKEN WORD COMPETITION 2024, which invited students to respond to an open prompt. The competition is an opportunity to motivate, recognize, and celebrate our strong student voices through writing, spoken word, and art.

Letter to my Mother

Dear Mommy,

I am sorry I must begin with an extended apology for what I am not. I am not what
you wanted me to be. I am sorry that I am not as sweet as you tried to raise me. I can be quite
the opposite - judgmental, prideful, mean. I'm the type to first listen to my predetermined
prejudices that overpower your teachings. I am sorry that I don't understand my strengths
nor what I bring to the table. I am sorry that I am not beautiful, pretty or feminine. I let my
hair tangle into a nest on my head. I am sorry that I am not more vocal. I silence the voice
that says how deeply I love you and how dearly I mis- I miss you mommy! My last sorry is for
what I AM. I am sorry that I am an irritating replica of you, a mirrored image.

I have your kinky hair, your mahogany eyes, your charisma that attracts the wrong
people, your voice that starts wars, your bleached skin, and your wide-eyes that stare into the
abyss of people’s souls. I have your kindness that searches for the good in people, your short
stature, your love for ethnic cuisine and material objects, your bad temper, and your sassy
walk. I even have your love for knowledge, your maturity, your poor eyesight, your desire to
maintain your appearance, your cracking ankles and knees, and your love for clean sneakers.
I adopted the manner in which you chew, your moral compass that urges you to save five
while sacrificing one, your perfectionist mentality that gets furious at error, your love to
accessorize, your chronically cold state, and your high pain tolerance.

And if you were to ever lose me, understand that I will always be with you, within
you. You’ll find me in your appearance, tangled in your soul, slithering into your routine,
hijacking your favorite meals, helping with your extensive work, dueting with your favorite
music, dancing with you while you do chores; your entire existence, paired to mine.

I would believe in a God or Goddess if you were held up as the idol, for you are the
only person that deserves my faith and devotion. You are my Everything!
And for those that ask me, “Who are you?” Well, I'll point to you. I’ll describe you and
whisper your name. I’ll draw you because you are me, and I am you. I hope, pray, wish that

everything that I accomplish, you see as a gift to you, a repayment for the tireless, back-
breaking struggles that you endured for me.

I'm sorry I needed to write this to you, to explain what I am to myself.

With all the unwavering love you’ve given me,
Your daughter




Brianna Castillo

12th Grade, Ánimo Watts Charter High School

Guiding Teacher: Renee Mora