“Sonrisas” is a poem appropriately included in Pat Mora’s collection titled Borders, published in 1986. As a Mexican-American woman born in El Paso, Mora has created verse that has always been charged with thematic associations of what it is like to occupy two locations separated by a cultural borderline.
The borderline that separates the cultural geographies of Hispanics and Americans in “Sonrisas” is a doorway separating two teachers' lounges in a school. On one side are the repressed American teachers in colorless business suits drinking black coffee in sterility and on the other the colorfully garbed sensuous Mexican teachers laughing as they gulp sweet, milky coffee.
In less than 80 words and drawing in a parallel of just a few bits of imagery, Mora signifies the differences between two cultures while creating a perfect metaphor for where she fits into both these cultures. “Sonrisas” is often found in academic curricula studying both economy of poetic verse and multicultural expressions in literature.