Mirroring Form in "Sonrisas" College

“Sonrisas” by Pat Mora is a poem that describes groups of women in two separate rooms. The title, “Sonrisas,” means “smiles” in Spanish, however, the poem isn’t only about smiles; it focuses on the activities of two groups of women. The narrator remarks on their conversations, clothing, coffee, and culture. The poem is comprised of two stanzas that have similar words but much different meanings. The themes parallel throughout the poem and are found in similar areas of the separate stanzas. The content of both stanzas are analogous yet, they have striking differences. What is the purpose of having the stanzas in “Sonrisas” mirror each other?

The first stanza, which is an octave, begins with the lines “I live in a doorway/ between two rooms” (Mora, page 528, lines 1-2). While she doesn’t actually live in this doorway, her life is lived between two distinct places. The narrator explains what goes on in the first of the rooms; a professional group of women drink black coffee and discuss “budgets, tenure, [and] curriculum[s]” (lines 3-5). The black coffee shows the blandness and simplicity of the women at work; it is a staple to most people’s...

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