Picket Line Baby

By AIDEED MEDINA 

White women give my father shaded looks.
Bringing babies to do their dirty work,
mumbled in passing.
 
I am paid in jelly doughnuts
for my day on the boycott.
 
My dad leads my baby brother
to the front of the grocery store doors
for a meeting with the manager:
two men
and a five-year-old interpreter.

Forget the past humiliation,
for not speaking English
for not accepting the union’s terms
for not dumping Chiquita Bananas in the back alley dumpsters
for laughing and cursing at him
in front of his children.
 
Forget all of that pain
living on the lower back
and shoulders
of this campesino life.
 
My dad looks down
at my little brother,
“Dile, tell him in English, that I say
thank you for throwing away
all the Chiquita Banana.
Say it with force, con huevos,
like I am saying it now.”
 
My brother
is a cherub in denim overalls.
He looks up
at the large red-faced gringo
and says in perfect English,
“My dad says thank you for not having small bananas in your store.”
Tiny fist in the air.

 

Aideed Medina is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, spoken word artist, and playwright, and daughter of Miguel and Lupita Medina of Salinas, California, and the United Farm Workers movement. She is the author of 31 Hummingbird and a forthcoming full-length poetry collection, Segmented Bodies, from Prickly Pear Press. 

[Purchase Issue 26 here.]

Picket Line Baby

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