The Poet X

by

Elizabeth Acevedo

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Xiomara Batista Character Analysis

Xiomara is the novel’s protagonist. Xiomara is a 15-year-old Dominican American teenager living in Harlem. She is also a twin, and, until she begins to find her voice, a secret poet. In her poetry notebook, Xiomara writes poetry about everything from her pressing questions about Catholicism to kissing boys and the fact that she constantly has to defend herself against stereotyping and sexual harassment. Xiomara is very tall and curvy, and she’s often subjected to catcalls and groping from boys at school as well as grown men on the street. While Xiomara hates this, her discomfort and confusion is heightened by her upbringing in the Catholic Church. Xiomara has never had a choice about whether to attend church—and their church makes a point to note that it’s a woman’s responsibility to not be sexual or attract men’s attention. For Xiomara, this is extremely confusing, as she’s very interested in boys and, a few weeks into the school year, begins a relationship with a classmate named Aman. Because of the intense shame and guilt that Xiomara feels, she sometimes struggles to enjoy her time with Aman, even as she wants to kiss and, at times, do more. Around the same time, Xiomara begins taking classes with Father Sean so that she can be confirmed in the church. Given what Xiomara sees about the church’s priorities when it comes to women, as well as the fact that, as a twin born to parents who had given up on having children, she’s considered a miracle who needs to earn her right to life daily, Xiomara isn’t ready to be confirmed—not least because she’s not sure if she wants to worship God. Her questions result in Father Sean excusing her from confirmation, which gives Xiomara the opportunity to secretly attend poetry club meetings. Her introduction to spoken word poetry gives Xiomara the confidence to begin performing and writing more intentionally, and she also begins to make more friends. After Mami burns Xiomara’s poetry notebook, Xiomara asserts her independence by running away for a night and, with the help of Ms. Galiano and Father Sean, agrees to begin a dialogue with Mami about their fraught relationship.

Xiomara Batista Quotes in The Poet X

The The Poet X quotes below are all either spoken by Xiomara Batista or refer to Xiomara Batista. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sexuality and Shame Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of The Poet X published in 2018.
Part I Quotes

The other girls call me conceited. Ho. Thot. Fast.
When your body takes up more room than your voice
you are always the target of well-aimed rumors,
which is why I let my knuckles talk for me.
Which is why I learned to shrug when my name was replaced
by insults.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker)
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

I look at her scarred knuckles.
I know exactly how she was taught
faith.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

Their gazes and words
are heavy with all the things
they want you to be.

It is ungrateful to feel like a burden.
It is ungrateful to resent my own birth.
I know that Twin and I are miracles.

Aren’t we reminded every single day?

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Twin , Mami, Papi
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

And I get all this attention from guys
but it’s like a sancocho of emotions.

This stew of mixed-up ingredients:
partly flattered they think I’m attractive,
partly scared they’re only interested in my ass and boobs,
and a good measure of Mami-will-kill-me fear sprinkled on top.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami, Aman, Ms. Galiano
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

What if I like a boy too much
and none of those things happen...
they’re the only scales I have.

How does a girl like me figure out the weight
of what it means to love a boy?

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami, Papi
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

“Good girls don’t wear tampones.
Are you still a virgin? Are you having relations?”

I didn’t know how to answer her, I could only cry.
She shook her head and told me to skip church that day.
Threw away the box of tampons, saying they were for cueros.
That she would buy me pads. Said eleven was too young.
That she would pray on my behalf.

I didn’t understand what she was saying.
But I stopped crying. I licked at my split lip.
I prayed for the bleeding to stop.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami (speaker)
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

what’s the point of God giving me life
if I can’t live it as my own?

Why does listening to his commandments
mean I need to shut down my own voice?

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami, Father Sean
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

The poet talks about being black, about being a woman,
about how beauty standards make it seem she isn’t pretty.
I don’t breathe for the entire three minutes

while I watch her hands, and face,
feeling like she’s talking directly to me.
She’s saying the thoughts I didn’t know anyone else had.

We’re different, this poet and I. In looks, in body,
in background. But I don’t feel so different
when I listen to her. I feel heard.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Ms. Galiano
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

I just needed people saying words
about all the things that hurt them.

And maybe this is why Papi stopped listening to music,
because it can make your body want to rebel. To speak up.

And even that young I learned music can become a bridge
between you and a total stranger.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Papi, Aman
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
Part II Quotes

“And about this apple,
how come God didn’t explain
why they couldn’t eat it?
He gave Eve curiosity
but didn’t expect her to use it?
Unless the apple is a metaphor?
Is the whole Bible a poem?
What’s not a metaphor?
Did any of it actually happen?

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Father Sean, Caridad
Related Symbols: Apples
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

And I knew then what I’d known since my period came:
my body was trouble. I had to pray the trouble out
of the body God gave me. My body was a problem.
And I didn’t want any of these boys to be the ones to solve it.
I wanted to forget I had this body at all.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Aman
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

When I was little
Mami was my hero.
But then I grew breasts
and although she was always extra hard on me,
her attention became something else,
like she wanted to turn me
into the nun
she could never be.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:

He grins at me and shrugs. “I came here and practiced a lot.
My pops never wanted to put me in classes. Said it was too soft.”

And now his smile is a little sad.
And I think about all the things we could be
if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Aman (speaker)
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

I don’t yell how the whole block whispers
when I walk down the street
about all the women
who made a cuero out of him.

But men are never called cueros.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami, Papi, Aman
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

I’ll be anything that makes sense
of this panic. I’ll loosen myself from this painful flesh.

See, a cuero is any skin. A cuero
is just a covering. A cuero is a loose thing.
Tied down by no one. Fluttering
and waving in the wind. Flying. Flying. Gone.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami, Papi, Aman
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:
Part III Quotes

“I’m sorry I got in trouble.
I’m sorry I have to be here.
That I have to pretend to you and her
that I care about confirmation at all.
But I’m not sorry I kissed a boy.
I’m only sorry I was caught,
Or that I had to hide it at all.”

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami, Aman, Father Sean
Page Number: 226
Explanation and Analysis:

But even business deals are promises.
And we still married in a church.
And so I never walked away from him

although I tried my best to get back
to my first love.
And confirmation is the last step I can give you.

Related Characters: Mami (speaker), Xiomara Batista, Papi, Aman
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:

I can’t remember
the last time people were silent
while I spoke, actually listening.

Not since Aman.
But it’s nice to know I don’t need him
in order to feel listened to.

My little words
feel important, for just a moment.
This is a feeling I could get addicted to.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Aman, Ms. Galiano, Isabelle, Chris, Stephan
Related Symbols: Xiomara’s Poetry Notebook
Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:

I actually raise my hand
in English class
and answer Ms. Galiano’s question.
Because at least here with her,
I know my words are okay.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Twin , Mami, Aman, Ms. Galiano
Page Number: 264
Explanation and Analysis:

Because so many of the poems tonight
felt a little like our own stories.
Like we saw and were seen.
And how crazy would it be
if I did that for someone else?

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Twin , Caridad
Related Symbols: Xiomara’s Poetry Notebook
Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:

And I know that I’m ready to slam.
That my poetry has become something I’m proud of.
The way the words say what I mean,
how they twist and turn language,
how they connect with people.
How they build community.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Ms. Galiano, Chris, Stephan
Related Symbols: Xiomara’s Poetry Notebook
Page Number: 287
Explanation and Analysis:

I lay it across my wrist
and cinch the clasps closed.
Her daughter on one side,
myself on the other.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami
Related Symbols: The Baby Bracelet
Page Number: 292
Explanation and Analysis:

I have no more poems. My mind blanks.
A roar tears from my mouth.
“Burn it! Burn it.
This is where the poems are,” I say,
thumping a fist against my chest.

“Will you burn me? Will you burn me, too?
You would burn me, wouldn’t you, if you could?”

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami
Related Symbols: Xiomara’s Poetry Notebook
Page Number: 308
Explanation and Analysis:

She puts a soft hand on my arm
and I look into the face of a woman
not much older than me,
a woman with a Spanish last name,
who loves books and poetry,
who I notice for the first time is pretty,
who has a soft voice and called my house
because she was worried
and the words are out before I know it:

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami, Aman, Ms. Galiano
Related Symbols: Xiomara’s Poetry Notebook
Page Number: 332
Explanation and Analysis:

And so, I love this quote because even though it’s not about poetry, it IS about poetry. It’s about any of the words that bring us together and how we can form a home in them.

Related Characters: Xiomara Batista (speaker), Mami, Father Sean, Ms. Galiano
Page Number: 356
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Poet X LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Poet X PDF

Xiomara Batista Character Timeline in The Poet X

The timeline below shows where the character Xiomara Batista appears in The Poet X. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part I: In the Beginning Was the World
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Friday, August 24. Stoop-Sitting. Xiomara writes that it’s the last week before school starts, so she enjoys the last bits... (full context)
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Unhide-able. Xiomara says that she can’t hide. She’s taller than Papi, and Mami has always said that... (full context)
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Mira, Muchacha. “Mira, muchacha” (“Listen, girl”) is Mami’s favorite way to start speaking to Xiomara, and Xiomara always knows that she’s in trouble. This time, Mami says that a woman... (full context)
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Names. Xiomara’s name is the only one in the family that isn’t biblical or even Dominican. It... (full context)
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The First Words. People have told Xiomara “Pero, tú no eres fácil” (“You’re not easy”) for her entire life. She hears it... (full context)
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...takes more than an hour to get home to Harlem in the evenings. Mami tells Xiomara that she spends her time on the train reading the Bible and getting ready for... (full context)
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Tuesday, August 28. Confirmation Class. Xiomara explains that Mami has wanted Xiomara to be confirmed in the church for three years.... (full context)
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God. There are lots of reasons that Xiomara wonders about God. She wonders why the holy trinity doesn’t include the mother, but she... (full context)
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“Mami,” I Say to Her on the Walk Home. Xiomara is nervous, but she forces herself to ask what would happen if she didn’t do... (full context)
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When You’re Born to Old Parents. Xiomara says that when you’re born to old parents who had given up hope of ever... (full context)
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When You’re Born to Old Parents, Continued. Xiomara continues and says that when the twins were born, Papi stopped drinking and hanging out... (full context)
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When You’re Born to Old Parents, Continued Again. Mami had a baby bracelet engraved with Xiomara’s name and Mi Hija (my daughter) on the other side. It was Xiomara’s favorite gift... (full context)
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The Last Word on Being Born to Old Parents. Xiomara hates that her parents are old. Not even Twin understands the burden that Xiomara feels.... (full context)
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...she could move to the U.S. Thirty years later, Mami and Papi are still married. Xiomara thinks that Mami hasn’t forgiven Papi for “making her cheat on Jesus,” or for the... (full context)
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Tuesday, September 4. First Confirmation Class. Xiomara instantly wants to hit the other kids because they stare at Xiomara and Caridad. She... (full context)
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Father Sean. Father Sean runs the confirmation class. He’s been the head priest for Xiomara’s entire life. He wasn’t too strict last year during youth Bible study, but Xiomara does... (full context)
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Haiku; Boys. As Father Sean lectures, Xiomara whispers to Caridad. She asks if Caridad kissed boys when she was in the Dominican... (full context)
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Caridad and I Shouldn’t Be Friends. Xiomara says that she and Caridad are never mistaken for sisters and aren’t “two sides of... (full context)
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Questions I Have. Xiomara wonders who she’d be around boys if Mami weren’t so strict. Xiomara has lots of... (full context)
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Wednesday, September 5. Night before First Day of School. Xiomara lies in bed thinking of the new school year. She can feel her body stretching... (full context)
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Thursday, September 6. H.S. Xiomara’s high school might have been built during the Great Depression. Kids come from all over... (full context)
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Ms. Galiano. Ms. Galiano isn’t what Xiomara expected after hearing kids talk about her being strict and tough. Xiomara expected an old... (full context)
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Rough Draft of Assignment 1—Write about the most impactful day of your life. Xiomara writes about starting her period in fifth grade. Nobody had told her what to do... (full context)
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Final Draft of Assignment 1 (What I Actually Turn In). Xiomara writes that when she turned 12, Twin bought her a leather-bound poetry notebook for their... (full context)
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The Routine. Every day after school, Xiomara goes straight home. She’s the girl of the house, so she has to help out.... (full context)
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...his campers made. He’ll miss the mosaic of marbles that he hung in his and Xiomara’s room. She throws it out while cleaning and vows to apologize and say it was... (full context)
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Twin’s Name. Xiomara has only ever called her brother Twin. His real name is nice and a saint’s... (full context)
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...Twin is older by about an hour, he doesn’t act like it. When he and Xiomara were little, Xiomara would come home bruised and bleeding and Mami would scold her for... (full context)
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Tuesday, September 11. It’s Only the First Week of Tenth Grade. Xiomara feels like high school is a mess. In ninth grade she felt in between everything,... (full context)
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How I Feel About Attention. Xiomara muses that if Medusa was Dominican and had a daughter, she’d be the daughter. She... (full context)
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Saturday, September 15. Games. Twin, Caridad, and Xiomara go to a park on the Upper West side. Neither Twin nor Xiomara is athletic,... (full context)
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After. Xiomara says that “it” happens everywhere—at school, on the train, on the stoop, and when she... (full context)
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Okay? Twin asks if Xiomara is okay. Xiomara doesn’t know if she wants to hug him or hit him, and... (full context)
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Sunday, September 16. On Sunday. Xiomara stares at the back of the pew in front of her so she doesn’t have... (full context)
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During Communion. Xiomara says that she’s always taken communion. Today, however, she feels glued to her pew. Caridad... (full context)
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Church Mass. Xiomara says that when she was little, she loved Mass. The music was loud, everyone was... (full context)
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Not Even Close to Haikus. Xiomara says that Mami’s back is like a coat hanger, and her anger is heavy wool.... (full context)
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Holy Water. Xiomara listens to Mami and Papi talking about her—they never think that Xiomara and Twin listen... (full context)
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...also suspected he was infertile—that’s why he had so much casual sex. People think that Xiomara and Twin saved him and his marriage. Papi used to love to dance but now,... (full context)
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All Over a Damn Wafer. Mami forces Xiomara to go to evening Mass with her every day for a week. Xiomara stands to... (full context)
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Monday, September 17. The Flyer; After the Buzz Dies Down. Xiomara finds a plain poster that announces the spoken word poetry club, which is run by... (full context)
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Tuesday, September 18. Aman. Two weeks into school, Xiomara’s science class finally gets to start real work. A boy named Aman is Xiomara’s lab... (full context)
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Whispering with Caridad Later That Day. Xiomara whispers that there’s a boy at school, which Caridad says is proof that Xiomara should’ve... (full context)
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What Twin Be Knowing. As Xiomara gets ready for bed, she finds the flyer for the poetry club unfolded on her... (full context)
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Sharing. People think it’s odd how much Xiomara and Twin share, even though they’re very different. Mami wanted to move so they could... (full context)
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Questions for Ms. Galiano. Xiomara is early to English class. She asks quickly if Ms. Galiano runs the poetry club.... (full context)
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...about being black, female, and how beauty standards make her feel like she’s not pretty. Xiomara holds her breath and feels like the woman is speaking right to her. She feels... (full context)
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Holding a Poem in the Body. After Xiomara’s shower, she memorizes one of her poems. She thinks of the video from class and... (full context)
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J. Cole vs. Kendrick Lamar. Aman and Xiomara have to speak once they start doing real labs. One day, Xiomara asks if he’s... (full context)
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Asylum; What I tell Aman. Xiomara’s family got their first computer when Xiomara and Twin were nine. Twin looked up science... (full context)
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Dreaming of Him Tonight. Xiomara dreams of Aman’s face in her hands. She remembers Mami’s words, but she touches his... (full context)
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Thursday, September 20. The Thing about Dreams. Xiomara knows she can’t look Aman in the face—she knows he’ll see that she dreamed about... (full context)
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Date; Mami’s Dating Rules; Clarification on Dating Rules. Xiomara says that this isn’t a date or anything sinful. Mami’s rules for dating are that... (full context)
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Friday, September 21. Feeling Myself. Xiomara thinks that last night, she relished the secret that she was going to meet Aman.... (full context)
Part II: And the Word Was Made Flesh
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Smoke Parks. Xiomara says that since she won’t go to Aman’s house (plus, he didn’t invite her), they... (full context)
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I Decided a Long Time Ago. Xiomara says that when it comes to boys, she’ll only ever love Twin. She doesn’t want... (full context)
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Why Twin is a Terrible Twin. Twin is small, scrawny, and looks nothing like Xiomara. He refuses to wear contacts and doesn’t try to look cool. He’s a horrible Dominican... (full context)
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...talking early and has always gotten straight As and scholarships to space camp. He and Xiomara haven’t been in the same grade for a long time, so she can’t copy his... (full context)
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...Twin (Last and Most Important Reason). Twin has no twin intuition and never knows if Xiomara is in pain or needs help. He seldom looks up from Japanese comics or the... (full context)
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...Ever Love. Despite all his flaws, every now and then Twin says something that shocks Xiomara. Today, Twin says that Xiomara looks like something in her shifted. Xiomara wonders if Mami... (full context)
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Sunday, September 23. Communication. When Xiomara leaves Mass, she finds a text from Aman asking what she thought of Kendrick Lamar.... (full context)
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About A. When Xiomara thinks about Aman, she feels poems grow inside her. She thinks that it feels like... (full context)
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Monday, September 24. Catching Feelings. Things feel different at school. Xiomara tries to pretend that she forgot about the poetry club, but she sees that Ms.... (full context)
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Notes with Aman. Aman asks if Xiomara has gotten involved with anyone at school and asks if the boys aren’t cute enough... (full context)
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Tuesday, September 25. What I Didn’t Say to Caridad in Confirmation Class. Xiomara says that if Aman were a poem, he’d be written all over a paper bag... (full context)
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Lectures. Mami tells Xiomara to listen. Xiomara’s eyes roll as Mami says that she saw Xiomara and Caridad whispering... (full context)
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...Galiano’s Sticky Note on Top of Assignment 1. Ms. Galiano says that she thinks that Xiomara’s assignments have been very poetic and asks why Xiomara doesn’t think of herself as a... (full context)
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Sometimes Someone Says Something. Xiomara says that Ms. Galiano’s note makes her feel like someone is lighting a fire inside... (full context)
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Friday, September 28. Listening. Xiomara sits with Aman and waits for him to give her an earbud. He plays with... (full context)
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Mother Business. Xiomara and Aman usually don’t talk about their families, since they know their culture’s rules—it’s not... (full context)
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Warmth. Aman and Xiomara walk together and skip every train station. They walk silently and keep each other warm,... (full context)
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Tuesday, October 9. The Next Couple of Weeks. Time flies and it’s finally October. Xiomara avoids Ms. Galiano and her invitations to the poetry club. Aman and Xiomara walk together... (full context)
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...choices. Her story teaches people how to deal with temptation and resist the proverbial apple. Xiomara doesn’t know if it’s because of what she’s learning in school and in life or... (full context)
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“I Think the Story of Genesis is Mad Stupid.” Xiomara says that God made the earth and humans in seven days, but she also points... (full context)
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...Caridad whispers that it’s going to be awful if Father Sean says anything to Mami. Xiomara says that they’re supposed to be curious and asks if priests are supposed to keep... (full context)
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Father Sean. Father Sean says that Xiomara seems distracted and asks if there are other things she wants to talk about. He... (full context)
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Answers. Father Sean looks like he expects answers. Xiomara stares at a photo of Father Sean in a boxing ring and asks if he... (full context)
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Rough Draft Assignment 2—Last Paragraphs of My Biography. Xiomara writes that she will have made people say her name correctly and respect her as... (full context)
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Final Draft of Assignment 2 (What I Actually Turn In). Xiomara writes that she was a writer who created a nonprofit for first-generation teen girls. The... (full context)
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Hands. Xiomara admits that she and Aman have been holding hands in their desk in biology. She... (full context)
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Fingers. At night, Xiomara masturbates. She’s learning how to be silent and when she orgasms, it feels like a... (full context)
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Tuesday, October 16. Talking Church. Aman confirms that Xiomara goes to church often. Xiomara freezes. She knows that Aman is going to think that... (full context)
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Swoon. In science, Xiomara learns about how heat flows through some materials better than others. She thinks that the... (full context)
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Telephone. Twin doesn’t ask who Xiomara spends all night texting and Xiomara doesn’t share. Xiomara thinks that she’s never had friends... (full context)
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...Breakfast. Twin sings under his breath as he cuts an apple and gives half to Xiomara. Xiomara asks who Twin is smiling about, which makes Twin stop smiling. Twin asks who’s... (full context)
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Angry Cat, Happy X. Caridad texts Xiomara an angry cat meme because it reminds her of Xiomara. Xiomara brushes it off and... (full context)
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Friday, October 19. About Being in Like. Xiomara relishes her afternoon at the park with Aman. He gives her an earbud and asks... (full context)
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Music for A. Xiomara writes that putting her head on Aman’s shoulder makes her happy. If they don’t breathe,... (full context)
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...October 23. Ring the Alarm. The big day starts normally. It’s the first Tuesday since Xiomara asked about Eve. During last period bio, the fire alarm goes off. Xiomara suggests to... (full context)
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The Day; Wants. Xiomara and Aman sit on their bench. Aman puts his arm around her shoulders and kisses... (full context)
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At My Train Stop. When the train reaches Xiomara’s station, she pulls her hand out of Aman’s and blushes. She doesn’t hear Aman ask... (full context)
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What I Don’t Tell Aman. Xiomara can’t date, be seen with a boy, or have him in her cellphone. She can’t... (full context)
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Kiss Stamps. As Xiomara walks into confirmation class, she feels like anyone who looks at her will know she... (full context)
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The Last Fifteen-Year-Old. Xiomara knows that it’s not a big deal to kiss a guy. Boys have wanted to... (full context)
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Concerns. Father Sean asks Xiomara if things are okay. She thinks he knows about the kiss and watches him look... (full context)
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What Twin Knows. Xiomara interrupts Twin’s furious texting and asks if he knew that Father Sean’s mom died. He... (full context)
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Black & Blue. Xiomara wonders what kind of a twin she is to not notice when Twin comes home... (full context)
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Tight. Xiomara is angry with Twin for not telling her that someone at school was bothering him.... (full context)
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Saturday, October 27. Excuses. Xiomara asks Caridad if she’d be upset if Xiomara didn’t join them at the movies. She... (full context)
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Costume Ready. Xiomara leaves with Twin, ostensibly to go to the movies, but he goes to Caridad’s house... (full context)
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Reuben’s House Party. Xiomara knows she’s too early. She knows a few people, but they’re all part of the... (full context)
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One Dance. Xiomara’s heart beats fast. This isn’t something with coordinated steps; this is a close slow dance.... (full context)
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Stoop-Sitting...With Aman. The neighborhood is on fire. Costumed people laugh and sing. Aman holds Xiomara’s hand, but Xiomara is afraid to look at him. He mentions that he doesn’t live... (full context)
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Convos with Caridad. Xiomara texts Caridad that she’s on her way home. She thanks Caridad for lying and when... (full context)
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Sunday, October 28. Braiding. Xiomara thinks about Aman all through Mass, even though she knows Mami will lecture her later.... (full context)
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Monday, October 29. Fights. Xiomara heads downtown to Twin’s school. She ignores Aman’s questions and prepares herself for a fight.... (full context)
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Scrapping. Xiomara says she’s not stupid—she knows that she’s not always going to be bigger and meaner... (full context)
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...We Don’t Say. On the train home, Twin plays chess on his phone and ignores Xiomara. Xiomara tells him that she knows he’s probably felt this way forever, but Mami and... (full context)
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Gay. Xiomara admits that she’s always known without knowing that Twin is gay. She thinks that they’re... (full context)
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Feeling Off When Twin Is Mad. Xiomara feels a little upset that she and Twin are fighting. When he’s mad, it throws... (full context)
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Rough Draft of Assignment 3—Describe someone you consider misunderstood by society. Xiomara writes that Mami used to be her hero. Mami didn’t let not speaking English stop... (full context)
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Final Draft of Assignment 3 (What I Actually Turn In). Xiomara writes that she’s always admired Nicki Minaj. She thinks that the person Minaj is in... (full context)
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...on February eighth. It’s open to the public and Ms. Galiano encourages everyone to come. Xiomara blushes. She thinks she should compete. (full context)
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Ice-Skating. Xiomara says that when they was little, Mami used to take her and Twin skating every... (full context)
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Until; Love. Xiomara says that she forgot about skating until one day, Aman asks her to go skating.... (full context)
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Thursday, November 8. Around and Around We Go. Xiomara invites Twin to come, but he pretends to sleep. He’s still upset that Xiomara came... (full context)
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After Skating; This Body on Fire. At the train, Aman pulls Xiomara close and kisses her. They never kiss publicly, but Xiomara wants to kiss. She knows... (full context)
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The Shit & the Fan. Xiomara hears Mami yelling from outside the front door. Mami shouldn’t be home yet, even if... (full context)
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Miracles. Xiomara doesn’t scream when Papi calls her a cuero. She doesn’t tell him that people whisper... (full context)
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Fear. Twin asks Xiomara what she did. Xiomara doesn’t look at him since she knows it’ll make them both... (full context)
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Ants. Mami drags Xiomara to her alter of the Virgin Mary. She pushes Xiomara down and commands her to... (full context)
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I Am No Ant; Diplomas. Mami yanks Xiomara up by her hair and shoves her face close to Mary’s. Xiomara thinks she’s not... (full context)
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Cuero. Xiomara says that cuero is the Dominican word for whore. Cueros are regular girls, but with... (full context)
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Mami Says. Mami tells Xiomara that men’s hands are never clean. Even if they smell like soap, there are still... (full context)
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Repetition. Mami’s firm grip makes Xiomara nauseous and dizzy. Mami prays while Xiomara feels the rice that she kneels on biting... (full context)
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Things You Think While You’re Kneeling on Rice That Have Nothing to Do with Repentance. Xiomara remembers watching Papi peel an orange without lifting his knife. The peel curled away and... (full context)
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...Thing You Think While You’re Kneeling on Rice That Has Nothing to Do with Repentance. Xiomara thinks that Mami has always had rough, calloused hands. She used to rub Mami’s calluses... (full context)
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...Thing You Think While You’re Kneeling on Rice That Has Nothing to Do with Repentance. Xiomara thinks of the grain indents on her knees, and how lucky it is that she’s... (full context)
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Leaving. Twin puts frozen bags of veggies on Xiomara’s knees and cheek. He notes that Mami didn’t make her kneel very long and Xiomara... (full context)
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...from Me?; Consequences. Caridad texts Twin later and asks him to show the message to Xiomara. Xiomara looks at it and hands back the phone. She knows they’re worried, but what... (full context)
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Late That Night. Xiomara only wants to talk to Aman. Twin offers to let her use his phone, but... (full context)
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Friday, November 9. In Front of My Locker. Xiomara barely notices a group of guys circling until one squeezes her buttocks. The boys laugh... (full context)
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Silent World. All weekend, Xiomara purposefully hears nothing. Aman tries to speak to her, but she pretends not to hear.... (full context)
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Sunday, November 11. Heavy. Xiomara asks Father Sean to meet her for confession as Mami looks on. He asks Xiomara... (full context)
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My Confession. Xiomara notes that a person would think she’s pregnant by how Mami is acting. Papi just... (full context)
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...makes people laugh. When he speaks to Mami, he’s gentle and serious. He says that Xiomara isn’t ready to be confirmed and should have time to answer some questions. He assures... (full context)
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How I Can Tell. Xiomara knows that Mami is angry because she speaks quickly in Spanish. Mami scolds Xiomara to... (full context)
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Before We Walk in the House. Mami tells Xiomara that she can’t turn away from God. She says that she was ready to marry... (full context)
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My Heart Is a Hand. Xiomara feels her heart turn into a fist. It shrinks like a raisin or like a... (full context)
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Wednesday, November 14. A Poem Mami Will Never Read; In Translation. Xiomara gives the same poem twice, first in Spanish and then in English. She says that... (full context)
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Heartbreak. Xiomara admits that she didn’t mean to hurt anyone and doesn’t understand how she hurt people,... (full context)
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Reminders. Xiomara does homework in bed while Twin watches anime without headphones so Xiomara can listen. It’s... (full context)
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Writing. Xiomara spends every day in class writing in her poetry notebook. Ms. Galiano sends Xiomara to... (full context)
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What I’d Like to Tell Aman When He Sends Another Apology Message: Xiomara wants to tell Aman that he doesn’t need to apologize. Xiomara is good at silence... (full context)
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Wednesday, November 21. Favors. Twin pulls out Xiomara’s headphones and offers her a cut apple. Xiomara is surprised, but eats the entire thing... (full context)
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Pulled Back. Xiomara helps Mami in the kitchen when the phone rings. Mami answers and hands the phone... (full context)
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Thursday, November 22. On Thanksgiving; Haiku: The Best Part About Thanksgiving Was When Mami: Xiomara and Twin help Mami serve American food to homeless people at church. Xiomara feels sick... (full context)
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Rough Draft of Assignment 4—When was the last time you felt free? Xiomara recalls being five or six. Papi had watched a karate movie and Mami was at... (full context)
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Rough Draft of Assignment 4—When was the last time you felt free? Xiomara thinks that she was last happy when she recited a poem for Aman. She remembers... (full context)
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Rough Draft of Assignment 4—When was the last time you felt free? Xiomara wonders if a stoop can be a place for freedom. She loves sitting on the... (full context)
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Final Draft of Assignment 4 (What I Actually Turn In). Xiomara says that freedom is complicated. She hasn’t experienced imprisonment like Nelson Mandela or like fighting... (full context)
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Gone. Xiomara hates lunch now too. Boys try to squeeze in and look at her poetry notebook... (full context)
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Monday, December 10. Zeros. Xiomara expects a zero on her last assignment, but Ms. Galiano leaves a note asking if... (full context)
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Possibilities. Ms. Galiano asks Xiomara to stand with her while she dismisses the other students. Once they’re alone, Ms. Galiano... (full context)
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Can’t Tell Me Nothing. Xiomara wonders when she last looked forward to something, since meeting Aman seems so long ago.... (full context)
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Tuesday, December 11. Isabelle. A girl in a pink tutu and Jordans asks if Xiomara is the “big-bodied freshman” that the boys talk about. Xiomara almost laughs. She shrugs and... (full context)
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First Poetry Club Meeting. Xiomara thinks that it feels like moments are lining up to knock her down in a... (full context)
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Nerves. Xiomara thinks this feels different than reading to Aman—she didn’t feel like she needed to impress... (full context)
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Compliments. Ms. Galiano compliments Xiomara on taking the leap to perform. Xiomara is used to compliments, but not ones about... (full context)
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...a Thing with Wings. Caridad says that class got out early. She told Mami that Xiomara was in the bathroom. Xiomara apologizes for making Caridad lie. Caridad asks if Xiomara is... (full context)
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...angry; Aman has stopped trying to apologize, and Twin seems to be getting progressively sadder. Xiomara is silent most places but in Ms. Galiano’s class, she raises her hand. She knows... (full context)
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Haikus. Xiomara writes that cafeterias aren’t safe anymore. She skips eating there and instead writes poetry in... (full context)
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Offering. Xiomara packs up to leave the bathroom and the door swings open. Xiomara tries to escape,... (full context)
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Holding Twin; Cody. Xiomara gets home and reaches for the phone to call Mami, but she hears Twin sobbing... (full context)
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Problems; Dominican Spanish Lesson. Twin shakes and struggles to calm down. Xiomara pats his back and takes his glasses off. She tells him that he needs to... (full context)
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Permission. Caridad calls later and asks Mami if Xiomara can come to the poetry event. Mami shoots dirty looks at Xiomara, but agrees that... (full context)
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Friday, December 14. Open Mic Night. Caridad, Twin, and Xiomara have to take two trains and then walk to get to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.... (full context)
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Signed Up. Caridad tells Xiomara that she signed her up to perform. Xiomara starts shaking and wants to leave, but... (full context)
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The Mic Is Open. Xiomara remembers the first line, recites it shakily, and then begins again. She forgets everything but... (full context)
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...the host mentions is the same one that Ms. Galiano talked about at poetry club. Xiomara doesn’t really believe in signs, but this seems like a sign. At home, she tries... (full context)
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Sunday, December 16. All the Way Hype. Xiomara thinks about the open mic all weekend and spends all her free time writing. She... (full context)
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Monday, December 17. At Lunch on Monday. Xiomara goes to the art room and sits across from Isabelle. Isabelle pulls off her headphones... (full context)
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Tuesday, December 18. At Poetry Club. Xiomara shares with the poetry club that she went to an open mic. Everyone is amazed... (full context)
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Every Day after English Class. Ms. Galiano starts asking Xiomara to read her a new poem after each class. Xiomara chooses her best and shortest... (full context)
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Monday, December 24. Christmas Eve. Mami buys three big poinsettias instead of a Christmas tree. Xiomara explains that Christmas Eve is one of her favorite holidays, since most Latinx families open... (full context)
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It’s a Rosary. Xiomara tempers her expectations. It’s probably a rosary, since Mami doesn’t believe in any other jewelry.... (full context)
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...26–Tuesday, January 1. Longest Week. The week after Christmas seems like the longest week of Xiomara’s life. She writes and reads poems to Twin, who texts Caridad about Cody. Xiomara finds... (full context)
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Wednesday, January 2. The Waiting Game. School starts on Wednesday, so Xiomara misses poetry club by a day. She’s disappointed, but takes the extra time to write.... (full context)
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Tuesday, January 8. Birthdays. In the morning, Twin and Xiomara exchange gifts. Xiomara gets him an X-Men comic about Iceman, who’s gay. They hug and... (full context)
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The Good. Caridad leaves voicemails singing “Happy Birthday” on Xiomara’s phone. When Xiomara goes to her locker, she finds an envelope in her biology textbook... (full context)
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The Bad. Xiomara rummages through her bag for her poetry notebook, but she only finds the one Twin... (full context)
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The Ugly. Xiomara notices right away that her poetry notebook isn’t on the kitchen table. Mami is sitting... (full context)
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Let Me Explain. Xiomara tries to explain that the poems are just her personal thoughts. They’re private, and it... (full context)
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...to Sin; Verses. Mami puts the match to the leather cover and begins to pray. Xiomara leaps and grabs for her poetry notebook, but Mami turns and shoves Xiomara. Xiomara feels... (full context)
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Burn; Where There Is Smoke. Mami stares at Xiomara like Xiomara is insane and keeps praying. Suddenly, they both gasp and cry. Xiomara feels... (full context)
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...Is Burning; Other Things You Think About in the Split Second Your Notebook Is Burning. Xiomara wonders who would put her out if she were on fire. She wonders who would... (full context)
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...Returning. Papi puts out the fire with the fire extinguisher. Mami watches him silently, but Xiomara knows that as soon as the air clears, Mami will chase her. Xiomara stands, glad... (full context)
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On the Walk to the Train. Xiomara calls Caridad. Caridad starts singing “Happy Birthday,” but she stops when she hears Xiomara crying.... (full context)
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The Ride. The train proceeds with stops and starts, but it doesn’t bother Xiomara. She gets off and it starts to snow. Xiomara turns her face to the sky... (full context)
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No Turning Back. Aman tries to ask Xiomara questions, but she doesn’t hear them. She only feels his fingers. They walk until Xiomara... (full context)
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Taking Care. Xiomara thinks all the way up the stairs. Aman’s father works nights, so Aman spends his... (full context)
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In Aman’s Arms. In Aman’s arms, Xiomara feels warm and safe. They apologize and start kissing. Xiomara takes off her shirt and... (full context)
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And I Also Know. Xiomara knows they need to stop. Aman is on top of her on the couch and... (full context)
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The Next Move. Xiomara sits up, holds her bra against her chest, and waits for Aman to call her... (full context)
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Tangled. Xiomara thinks of the long three-strand necklaces she wears sometimes. They’re beautiful, but it’s impossible to... (full context)
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There Are Words. Xiomara knows that she and Aman need to talk, but they watch highlights of the Winter... (full context)
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Wednesday, January 9. Facing It. As soon as Xiomara walks into Ms. Galiano’s class, Ms. Galiano calls her into the hallway. Xiomara is wearing... (full context)
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...Want to Do”; What I Say to Ms. Galiano After She Passes Me a Kleenex. Xiomara takes a breath and thinks that nobody has ever told her before that she’s free... (full context)
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Going Home. Xiomara feels like going home is the hardest thing. She’s not sure what she needs to... (full context)
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Aman, Twin, and Caridad; Divine Intervention. Xiomara introduces Aman to Twin and Caridad and they walk to the train. She wants to... (full context)
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Homecoming. Xiomara puts her key in the lock, but she doesn’t turn it. Mami might not be... (full context)
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My Mother and I. Xiomara thinks that she and Mami might not be friends. They’ll never shop for a prom... (full context)
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Thursday, January 24. Stronger. In bio, Xiomara learns about erosion and how, over time, small streams can break apart mountains. Xiomara and... (full context)
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Slam Prep. Ms. Galiano convinces Xiomara to commit to the poetry slam. Xiomara practices in her mirror and at poetry club.... (full context)
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Ms. Galiano Explains the Five Rules of Slam; Xiomara’s Secret Rules of Slam; The Poetry Club’s Real Rules of Slam. Ms. Galiano’s rules are... (full context)
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Friday, February 1. Poetic Justice. A week before the slam, Xiomara takes a deep breath and prepares to practice her poem in front of Twin, Mami,... (full context)
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Friday, February 8. The Afternoon of the Slam. Aman and Xiomara go to the park. He holds her hand and they listen to Nicki Minaj. Xiomara... (full context)
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At the New York Citywide Slam. With Ms. Galiano’s assistance, Xiomara recites a truthful poem. Twin’s help with practice means that it’s polished, and her new... (full context)
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...beans. Mami and Papi let Aman sit on the couch, but they won’t call him Xiomara’s boyfriend. Isabelle plays bachata and asks Caridad to dance. Xiomara watches Twin pretend he’s not... (full context)
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Assignment 5—First and Final Draft. Xiomara gives the Psalm “The unfolding of your words gives light; / it gives understanding to... (full context)