16 pages 32 minutes read

Sandra Cisneros

Abuelito Who

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1922

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Literary Devices

Form & Meter

Cisneros’s poem “Abuelito Who” utilizes a loose iambic pentameter and is written in free verse as one stanza. The syllables within each line vary at random intervals, and the shortest being “is sick” (Line 13) with two syllables. Up until the end of the last line, the poem lacks any punctuation, and this stream-of-consciousness single-stanza form emphasizes the undifferentiated quality of a child’s thought; the speaker says not that Abuelito reminds her of “dough and feathers” (Line 3), for example, but that he is these things. Abuelito, and experiences associated with him, form a single imaginative entity—and the poem’s form mirrors this. The single stanza with no regular meter additionally reinforces the child’s voice; more traditional forms would bring an element of restraint and sophistication at odds with the tone and overall world of a child’s imagination. Cisneros does not attempt to align herself with tradition, although her simple syntax and stream of associations do refer to writers like Gwendolyn Brooks and Gertrude Stein. In one stanza, the poem demonstrates how an individual person or thing can change into something new without a definitive break to represent that change.