The narrative prose poem “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros offers not only insight into the mind of child getting older, but also into the larger ideal of aging in general. Through this piece of prose poetry, Cisneros consistently uses her uncanny ability to mimic and change voices to keep the reader on their toes, as well as to add to her overall use of imagery and metaphor to deliver a poem that keeps the reader engaged from start to finish.
Beginning in a more mature voice, the author sets the poem up in a more direct and adult voice–caring, yet somewhat disconnected at the same time. This disconnection very quickly disappears, however, when Cisneros makes her sentimental connection with not only the reader, but with a much younger version of herself.
The author, when making the point that with every birthday the previous does not go away, but instead is carried, is a very centralized theme in the prose poem. Recanting years of the authors life–in a sort of lyrical slideshow–was probably the most powerful thing about this piece. Not only does it make the writing relatable through common imagery, it further solidifies how dignifying it truly is to age.
Her description of the red sweater and “Mrs. Price” is a huge metaphor for gaining wisdom with age–truly the meaning of what Cisneros meant when speaking about carrying age with one. There is physical age sure–but her constant wishes to have the knowledge of someone of an astronomical age, unreachable truly, was exaggerated on purpose. It was exaggerated to solidify the theme as a whole–wisdom learned with age and experience is carried throughout one’s life.
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