‘Tending Hands’ on Public Radio International

Me and my dad about 1970.

I’m thankful to Public Radio International’s Anglilee Shah who read my original post and reached out to me to feature it on PRI’s website.

“When I was 10 years old, I began working regularly with my family as a migrant farmworker. I’d done it previously, but only on Saturdays, to help them catch up when tornado warnings ended work early or when the patches of weeds were particularly thick. The summer of my fourth grade year, it became my full-time job. ..”

Read the entire essay

Read about this blog’s singular focus.

My other blog, The Latino Writer, features some of my work and essays outside this area of focus.

March 13, 1960


Wedding Day

I wonder what Grandpa thought
as you smiled for the camera
on this your wedding day.
Did he object to you marrying so young?
Did he have other dreams for you?

Did Grandma wish for more time
with you as her daughter
instead of as dad’s wife?
Did her hands help sew your wedding dress?
Did you “borrow” her white hat and gloves?

Did they fear losing you to the chaotic world
into which you decisively stepped?
Did reports from the kitchen radio of sit-ins
at Woolworth’s lunch counters concern them?

Who were the people at your side
standing as witnesses before God
listening to your sacred vows?

Where was your younger sister, my Tia Noche?
Where stood dad’s many siblings?
Did they try to talk you out of it?

Did they support your desire
for a family of your own
or did they voice concerns
of a lifetime of struggle?

Did they forewarn that brown skin,
bilingual tongues, and a limited education
would condemn dad to work years
in a congested meatpacking plant
and us to labor in the fields?

Perhaps like other young people of the time,
you found hope for your generation
in John F. Kennedy
in Martin Luther King
in yourselves.

Happily you breezed into a new life.
You were having your cake and eating it too.
After all, 1960 was a leap year
and that you did.