Lenora Castillo

The Migrant Workers are Back

From Tide-water baptism. Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, 1998

From the highway I can see the smoke
coming from the chimney in elongated S’s
their coffee can flower gardens form a line
beneath the kitchen window.

The dirt yard has been carefully swept and watered
to keep the dustfrom settling on laundry hanging
from metal clotheslines.

Mahogany-colored children laugh and play,
their skinnylegs, covered in graydirt,
that will be dutifully washed by a mother
wearing an apron with big pockets
and a house dress in multi-colored flowers.

All summer long they work, rarely looking up,
Jalando, jalando, their long-sleeved, white shirts
like pin-points oflight in the emerald
sugar beet fields.

Come fall they’ll gather up their mahogany-colored
children, sweep up their laughterin plastic dust
pans, and leave sagging metal clotheslines
complaining in the wind.

The dull, black eyes of the empty house will stare
at the highway awaiting their return.

Castillo, Lenora. “Tide-water baptism” (1998). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. Paper 7096. Iowa State University; Ames, Iowa.