April 2013

Mi ‘apá/My Father, the Man

Who comes home from work late smelling of dry sweat,
His knuckles caked with dirt. The back of his neck torched
Red, his bare back oozing pinprick droplets
Of blood born from the sun. On his work shirt,
The company logo and his name stitched on the chest,
It crumpled cozy in the corner alongside socks and pants.
His lonchera, duct-taped together, green thermos
Half filled with cold arroz and frijoles.
Has me crack his knuckles, pulling on his fingers,
But not farting like in the jokes of other fathers and sons.
His toenails yellow like cardboard from years,
Millions of them, working. Tonight lying on the floor
On his back resting     resting. He’s got no time to play,
But that’s okay. He’s got work again tomorrow.

—René Saldaña, Jr.

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