Dear Mr. Ríos,
I really love your poem, it brings back so many memories! This poem reminds me of my grandma and how she's so beautiful with her long hair, but ends up cutting it because it’s too hot in Mexico and she’s always busy which leads her hair to always get in the way. It reminds me how my grandma loves all her grandchildren and takes care of them like they’re her kids. When you talk about the trees, horse, river, ranch, and different characters it reminds me of Mexico. My grandpa's farm or ranch and him because he loves horses and so do I. It also reminds me of Mexico's river, all my family there, and the beautiful tree’s. Lastly, this reminds me of the movie Rapunzel , haha. I love how you added so much detail and so many metaphors, my favorite metaphor stanza is “ Whose hair was as long as the river”. I can connect to your poem in a way because I remember when I was younger, I had long hair with curls at the ends of my hair, but my parents decided to cut it all off because they thought my hair was going to grow prettier and they were going to donate it but when my hair grew back I had straight hair. My curls were gone and I remember crying, but saying it was for a good cause. Even today I look at the pictures with my “boys hair cut” as I liked to call it. Throughout the story, the grandmother’s hair has always been there for her. It has saved her life and her children's lives as well, until it had to be cut off in order for her to get off the tree. What would happen if grandma had never had long hair? Would she and her kids have survived?
Mays Landing, NJ
Thank you so much for writing to me, and especially for talking about your grandma. She sounds a lot like mine! And she worked just the same way as yours, taking care of all of us as if we were her very own children. Something I always remember is how she was always at the stove getting something ready for us to eat, but because she was so busy she never got to sit down at the table with us. She was always just bringing us tortillas as she made them, or refills on our albondigas. As a kid, of course, I thought this was great—and it was, for me. For her, I suspect in some way it was also great, even though it was all work. Even though she only spoke Spanish and we kids used to struggle with that, it felt to me like she and I invented another language together, one you might understand, too: she would cook, and I would eat. It was a language whose words I remember still.
It sounds like your family has a ranch, too. Mexico is such a big country with so much land that I think almost every Mexican family, somewhere in their background, lived on a ranch. I always like hearing those stories, which seem so different from where I am now. I didn’t grow up on that ranch in the poem, but I did grow up in a rural setting. My first job in third grade was collecting eggs on a big ranch that had horses and cows and chickens. It did not smell like perfume!
It’s funny you would mention Rapunzel. I thought about that, too. You make some very good points about her having long hair, and I can see how you—and my grandmother—would both miss it. And more than that, I think you’re right—the hair ended up being what saved both her and the baby. I don’t think we think about hair that way, as a help, unless of course you’re Rapunzel. We think of it more as, I don’t know, a decoration on our head. But for it to find another meaning—this was a great moment for me to think about and to write about.
Thank you for telling me your story and your connections to the poem. I always think it’s wonderful when we find connections between ourselves as human beings. In today’s world, I want to think the best of all of us, even though it’s not always easy. But we’re all connected!
Please give my best to your teacher and classmates, and to your own family.