rightdx licensed
The Farmer calls for the migrant
by Cruz Villarreal

La pisca los busca,
y la siguen.

They follow the crops like hungry sheep,
who seek greener pastures, only they
must feed first the shepherds
with the labor of their hands
and wash the feet of the patrón, with the sweat of their brow.

They face the cold and dampness of the early morn,
no reluctance in their hastened steps.
The midday sun lashes them with rays of heat
that roasts them to a copper brown.
The brown that those in town resent.

The essential worker that picks from dawn to dusk
and sleeps in rundown shacks approved by

They exist but are nonexistent to the squeezer of the melon
or watermelon thumper.
A penny a pound to face the dangers of the field.
Five pair of hands, five sets of legs, five aching backs.
Mother, father, sister and brothers,
it takes a family to pay the rent and feed the belly.
Vacations are for gringos and their kids.

Some migrants get to stay,
some run away when the migra shouts,
“Show me your papers.” and “Como te llamas?”

In a poetic refrain, we feel the pain of Jesus, Maria y Jose,
but they are invisible,
to the picker of the apple or the peach
who carefully select from abundant shelves
of uptown grocers,
the fruits of the migrant’s labor.

PHOTO: Seasonal field workers pick and package strawberries in the Salinas Valley of Central California. Photo by Rightdx, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this piece after reading an article about Michigan migrant workers and the resistance of Michigan Farm Bureau to Covid-19 safety requirements. It reminded me how we dismiss these workers because we do not see the labor behind the convenience of having produce at our fingertips, and the only reason they were in the news was because Michigan farmers might be impacted. I am a son of migrants and know of the hard life they lead for so little pay, yet their work is essential to the economy.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cruz Villarreal is a poet in Michigan. He has degrees in professional communications and creative writing, and tutors writing at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan. For more of his work, visit his website.