How to Feed an Entire Country

Nosotros, a mano, plantamos, limpiamos, y cosechamos la fruta. Entonces el trabajo que estamos haciendo es la vida. La vida de todo el país—Migrant Worker in Luke McKinley’s “Campesino”

A Lakers cap
A Gap sweater
An apron caked in químicos.
Un naranjo whose leaves, peppered,
with sooty mold, you’ll brush
with the company’s all-carry pouch.

A brown satchel. Vientre del invierno
that Maritza will only inherit in animal books,
as she stomps across the wooden barrack

while she points at the glossy word “Savanna”
that you thought spelled “sábana”
hasta que te dijo, “¡Mira apá, trae tu bolsa!”
“Si mi’ja, somos como los canguros.”
Your chuckles, golpes to your aching bones—

They hum to el sueño, que jamás,
she’ll too wear it.

A thirty-foot ladder, pillowed against el arbol;
that upon prying its branches,
              I see
the horizon spell your name
in one thousand three hundred acres.

A red bandana tied at the back
so that the sun learns to kiss
             your forehead,

like la virgen’s glass lips
at the church in Granjeno,
            lleno en desert ash.

Cupped hands suplican a Cristo
to dodge the devils whose butterfly claws slashed
checkpoint water bottles.
            You pray

that cuando duermas,
lágrimas de nuestra señora will refill them.

A pair of red pinsers for la poda,
when the branches shrivel to wooden wires,
un alambre that burns your belly

I hear the Central Valley whisper
in the still wind: “Tengo miedo.
No puedo salir, así en la tienda,
o con mis hijas en el mall.
Tengo miedo que me encuentren
probando brasieres con Lucy.”

A loudspeaker to tell the world
que te hincas en la lluvia—
            with muddy knees,
            tired back, tired waist,
            tired shoulders.

            To fill One. More. Pouch.

So that a field hand que empieza a las quince
won’t see fifty.

A pair of brown hands wheelbarrow
the weight of a country.
            He can hold a flimsy paper banner
            with the words “Boycott Sakuma Bros.”

Walmart sweatpants rolled up to their ankles.

Roadside chanclas—
inside their Chinese straps,
toes wiggle in the chilly Seattle morning,
from cars honking to the peones’ proverb,
            “Campesino Power.”

Una niñita with a spotless jacket,
looks over his father.
            His chiquilla’s knees bowlegged,
            from the worlds they must carry
            between her shoulders.

A mind, pinned in pink hair bobbles,
            whose first words must be,
            “He, I can.”

Antonio López earned his MFA at Rutgers University at Newark. He’s a 2018 Tin House
Scholar in poetry, and an incoming writer at the 2018 Macondo Writers Workshop. His
nonfiction has been featured in
PEN/America and his poetry in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Acentos
Review, Permafrost, Huizache, HEArt Magazine, and elsewhere.

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