In “Alabanza,” a song that marks Abuela Claudia’s death in In the Heights, Usnavi (played by Lin Manuel Miranda) eulogizes,

Abuela Claudia had simple pleasures
She sang the praises of things we ignore
Glass Coke bottles, bread crumbs, a sky full of stars
She cherished these things, she’d say: “Alabanza.”
Alabanza means to raise this
Thing to God’s face
And to sing, quite literally: “Praise to this.”

Singing the praises of the overlooked, the ignored, the minor… that’s something I believe in.


to my little toes and the way they seem to fall
off the slope of my feet; to the smell of chocolate
cereal in the air on certain fall mornings; to the spring
of my step on muddy terrain; to the humming of my son
as he gets ready for bed; to the callouses on the tips
of my fingers; to absorbent washcloths and cleaner counters;

to the sweater my mother gave me that envelops
me in cuddliness; to cinnamon tea sweet fragrance;
to the medicines that stave off allergies; to the first conscious
breath of each day; to the letters of the alphabet;
to my favorite coffee cup from Red Wing and the way it sits
in my hands; to my gray hairs and crow’s feet;

to singing; to song; to sound; to voice; to the catch
in my throat when I’m trying not to cry; to the spread
of my jaw when I smile with my whole body.


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