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An Ode to Farmworkers, Monica Kessler

In the midst of a pandemic, when the world is standing still, our hands are moving quickly for we have bellies to fill. We are deemed essential, yet our health is seen as inconsequential. We harvest and pick from dusk til dawn. We labor in the cold wet rain and in the hot blazing sun. We work during wildfires, breathing in the soot. Hands full of calluses, bleeding, almost raw Stench of rotten food, insects all around. Feel the nausea set in, going to fall to the ground. A chingarle cabrones! Yells the foreman to us all Ending a 12 hour work day and finally heading home, wanting better for my kids, but fearing the unknown. A sixth grade education, can’t get our family far. Orchards, grapevines, drought Praying for rain. Receiving a flood. Thank you, God, but now I’m out of a job. ¡Esta pinche pobreza! No matter how hard we try, we can’t escape it. Que tristeza! My kids see how hard I work, they say it’s not for them. I hear people call them cholos, my kids know better than that! They know I’ll whip them with a belt because I’ll have none of that! Hearing shots fired, right outside my home. Cholos fighting for territory that isn’t theirs. Brothers killing brothers Don’t wear red, don’t wear blue Crying mothers’, abuelitas, and dads’ too! Police looking to book any young brown face. Soul-crushing poverty all over the place. They call it the central valley, agricultural capital of the world, we bring riches to your dinner table, but are penniless in our own home.

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