The Grief of La Llorona

Reposting La Llorona, which appeared in the August 2018 edition of Ojo del Lago, with a final stanza about the Mothers at the Border.

Easy for a mother to grasp La Llorona,
despite each mean version in the myth
of her motives for ‘killing’ her children.
Every mother gives her children up.
The child for whom she would give her life
can never be retrieved from the river of time.
Every mother becomes
a Woman in White, endlessly crying.

She is the mother who asks,
*What is sorrow and what is not sorrow?
They are dead who do not weep.
The child divine become the suffering man,
and La Llorona, a living Pietá.

The flowers cry when she passes
and remembers her child
running to bring his Mama a bloom.
*Do not think because she sings
her heart is joyful. One also sings from pain.
If you see her weeping under a tamarind tree
or if you see her singing,
the Banshee ghost, the grieving mother,
know her haunting comes from being haunted.

I, too, wander the riverbanks
and notice every child who reminds me
of the beautiful boy who vanished
into the magnificent man.
The door of my heart always ajar
to the baby, the toddler, the child
who will never again walk through.
Every mother, La Llorona.

Every mother gives her children up.
But those whose children are ripped from their arms
at borders where they’re deemed illegal,
those whose children flee to find a better life,
whose sons and daughters ride the Beast train,
their mothers never knowing
if their children live or die;
not even the tears of La Llorona,
though vast as all the oceans,
can plumb the depth of grief these mothers suffer.
Every mother gives her children up, but these
who weep for children gone to ghosts,
these are the mothers who show us  today
the face of La Llorona’s haunted loss.

©Susa Silvermarie 2018

*lyrics of the song

In Lila Downs’ interpretation of the song, she compares the legendary La Llorona’s loss with the Spanish invasion of Mexico, resulting in the demise of indigenous culture. In her 2001 album, Border, Downs dedicated the song to the spirits of Mexican migrants who have died crossing the line.

2 Responses to “The Grief of La Llorona

  • one of my favorites which i first learned from my Latina partner with the voice of an angel, back in the early 80s in Texas.

  • Incredibly powerful poem which I will post on my blog…. oh yes, S/he’s so much with us – just now I hear her weeping for the women who have been raped, shamed, silenced, – so many of us.