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Ode to Papa Lupe

by Spencer Rico

Labor lives thick in our blood like the humid air in July,

I remember anxiously hoping that

the university envelopes filled with numbers

were made of enough ink to fulfill family dreams dating back to 1929,

When farmers in Cocula, Jalisco would lift the sun every morning

and then watch it slowly sink as they swung machetes

weighted with the frustrations of poverty at stalks of sugarcane,

And my father,

Who split oceans heading north just to get here,

Only to be welcomed with words of hatred

and the naming of colors,

sleeping under kitchen tables and inside bathtubs,

going to night school and waking up before the sun,

taking loans and cigarette filled clothing,

eating hunger and sweating engine oil,

Just so he could make sure those hardships never

touch his children.

He had to wipe dirt from our tiny little fingers,

like a bleached baptism

to free them of supposed deformities

so nobody had to hear the word wetback again,

So employers would shake hands at first glance

and understand sharp palettes rinsed from the planet

with clear english syllables rolling off the tongue

like a Ford Model T Production line.

And for me,

I still carry stress from weekends at the shop

with busted knuckles and hands covered in soot.

The cracks in my hands at school:

black veins.

I lift up rocks buscando por palabras como una historia perdida

So I can patch together the remains of an implosion,

I am the vibrant threads of embroidered dresses

de Jalisco whose needles lead through linens

like the dolphins who weave themselves in between

the waves of the oceans amongst none other than sand and silt

De la tierra que conozco

About the Author

Spencer is a Mexican-American poet who originates from Cocula, Jalisco and is currently studying at UC Davis.

*Previously published in Open Ceilings summer 2020 Vol 1 Issue 2 Mechanism Press Publishing

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