When you’re not packing cherries,      you pass out crowns of Crossandra flowers

               to every coworker who’s crossed a border.

You think of your father,        when he said no to you moving to the city to study chemistry.

               So you went north, to study fruit instead.

Which ones are fit for a mouth,          which ones to juice for the evening toast,

               the first step before the ladies can follow your lead               between the cherry trees.

A boy, in the back of some car,          sees figures in the orchard.

               He focuses on the spaces between rows one too many times again.

This time,        he can hear the cheers

               when you rattle off every element of the periodic table

in one breath.


Oswaldo Vargas is a former farmworker and a 2021 Undocupoets Fellowship recipient. He has been anthologized in Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color and published in Narrative Magazine and Academy of American Poets’ “Poem-A-Day” (among other publications). He lives and dreams in Sacramento, California.

[Purchase Issue 26 here.]


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