We’ve walked to your fields at dawn.
We labored in the noon-day sun.
We returned, spent from your fields at dusk.
We are a million browns
In the migrant fields,
At harvest time in America.
We’ve picked your tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.
We’ve picked your apples, peaches and oranges.
We’ve eaten the dust of a thousand tractors;
The dust settling on us in delicate layers
Until our pesticide sweat
Ran like a burning yellow river
Down the valley of our backs.
We’ve lain in rat infested shacks
In winter so cold our brothers and sisters
Froze dead in their sleep.
We buried them on the outskirts
Of your cemeteries;
Too poor to buy them markers.
We can no longer find them
Anywhere, but in the troubled
Darkness of our nightmares.
We’ve come to your hospitals—in desperation,
Pleading for healing of our young.
We’ve placed them on your sterile altars—
Only to watch them die from neglect,
In hidden, taupe colored rooms—alone.
They died waiting for the nurses to call,
And doctors who never showed,
Who never cared,
About the poor, brown
Children who waited,
To die like dogs,
By the side of the road.
I’ve been awakened in dark by whispers.
I’ve been awakened in dark by anger.
I’ve eaten breakfast under a single,
Lonely, dangling, incandescent bulb,
In a dilapidated migrant laborer’s shack;
The bruja’s threatening shadow
Dancing malevolently on the wall,
Listening for the call—
Waiting for my fall—
I’ve labored in fields of rain,
My blood flowed murky and dark—like the rain
Down the sugar beet rows.
I’ve labored in fields set ablaze by the blistering sun.
Hell attempted to claim my soul.
I’ve labored in fields frozen white with early snow.
My feet have frozen, but I didn’t complain.
I’ve cut off my own fingers and not felt the pain.
I’ve labored in fields with my brothers and sisters.
Side by side—we worked.
Our nubile bodies sacrificed and spent.
We were there, but no one noticed.
We were there, but no one cared.
You can find Migrant Sun at Amazon.com.
“Those who have worked in a field in the cruel summer sun won’t need to read much of the poetry in Migrant Sun before finding themselves transported back to the hard labor.
Those who have never been there will inhale their first lungful of choking dust and feel the first trickles of dirty sweat down their backs as they read the words of Ramón Ledesma, who describes his childhood as a migrant worker in imagery so evocative it pulls the reader into the experience.”
Daily Sun News