My American Dream

By Claudia Meléndez Salinas

For Yailynn

Hace muchas lunas
we dreamt of your
strong labios jaguar,
thick African nose
del color de la miel
and your first scream
that was heard
by the aspens of the Rockies
and the skyscrapers of an industrial world
so far, so far
from the raucous volcano
and the patient volcana
that cradled your mother.

It was destiny, perhaps
that pushed the mothers
of the mothers of our mothers
further south, to warmer lands
to a safer place
for the children of the children of their children
to be born in a bountiful land
laden with seeds and promises.

Y hace no tantas lunas
your mother headed back north
to harvest the fruits
of the seeds planted
by the mothers of the mothers
of our mothers
to pluck her pain from
the earth
and mold it into your labios jaguar.

Your skin de miel se volverá
café con leche
your baby hair will be replaced
by a splendid, black mane
and lullabies in Spanish
will teach you what it means
to say te quiero.

Like your mother’s
your hazel eyes will turn green
when you cry,
and your salty tears will replenish
the parched earth that gives us
our daily bread.

We’ve traveled many miles
a full circle
to see your labios jaguar,
de otomí, de beduina, de peninsular
de mestiza,
kiss this land that is yours
that is ours.

We left and have returned
to see you grow
in this American land
that is yours
that is ours.


Claudia Meléndez Salinas is an award-winning multi-media journalist now working for the Monterey Herald, a daily newspaper in California’s Central Coast. In her nearly two decades of experience covering politics, education and immigration both in Mexico and the United States, Meléndez has always strived to have community voices take center stage in her stories.

Her journalistic work has been published in Mexico’s El Financiero and La Jornada and in the United States’ Latina and El Andar magazines and numerous newspapers. She holds a master’s in specialized journalism from the University of Southern California, and a bachelor’s in Latin American and Latino Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.