Friday, January 02, 2009

Grass Isn't Mowed on Weekends

What first comes across our minds
                                         About the stocky Mexican

Pushing a mower across the lawn
                                         At on a Sunday

As the roar of the cutter wakes us?
                                         Let me take a guess.

Why do they have to come so damn early?
                                         What do we make of his flannel

Shirt missing buttons at the cuffs,
                                         Threadbare at the shoulders,

The grass stains around his knees,
                                         The dirt like roadmaps to nowhere,

Between the wrinkles of his neck?
                                         Let me take a shot.
Dirty Mexican.

Would his appearance lead us to believe
                                         He is a border jumper or wetback

Who hits the bar top with an empty shot glass
                                         For the twelfth time then goes home

To kick his wife around like fallen grapefruit
                                         Lying on the ground?

First, the stocky Mexican isn't mowing the lawn
                                         At 7 a.m. on a Saturday.

He doesn't work weekends anymore ever since
                                         He lost one-third of his route

To laborers willing to work for next to nothing.
                                         Second, he knows better than to kneel

On the wet grass because, well, the knees
                                         Of his pants will become grass-stained

And pants don't grow on trees, even here,
                                         Close to Palm Springs.

Instead, after 25 years of the same blue collar work,
                                         Two sons out and one going to college,

Rather than jail, and a small but modest savings
                                         In case he loses the remaining two-thirds

Of his work -- no matter how small and reluctantly
                                         The checks come in the mail--

My father the stocky gardener believes
                                         He firmly holds his life

In both his hands like pruning shears,
                                         Chopping branches and blossoms,

Never looking downward as they fall to his feet
                                         In pieces like the American dream.

--John Olivares Espinoza, The Date Fruit Elegies (Bilingual Press, 2008)


Francisco Aragón said...

Hi Suzanne:
Glad to see you have John's book.

LoveandSalt said...

so good to talk to you--was it yesterday--i am fuzzy...sorry if i rang off abruptly at the end, as i was losing altitude and had to come in for a soft landing.

i want to come and play in emilys dollhouse


Suzanne said...

It was wonderful to talk to you, you didn't sound fuzzy... I wish I was there with you, but two fuzzy people probably is cause for trouble, eh?

I love Em's dollhouse, you should come over to play.

Loveyougirl, xo