Johnathan Diaz

You were always asking us
to bring the Bajo Sexto
and lay it in your scarred hands,
watch the flurry of sure fingers
on the glossy neck, feel the quake
and waver wrap around your voice.

You struggled to recall
the distant verses you learned in
the back of jolted, north-bound trucks
speeding to the fallow fields
of an embattled nation, its farmhands
gone to war, prompting
the appeal from Washington—“The harvest
is plentiful, but the laborers
are landing in Normandy.
Come north: tend our abandoned earth.”

Too late now for words to stay.
On your best days you have, perhaps,
impressions—the hard haul
of laden sacks to truck beds,
the sharp, wet weight of being bathed
like convicts in a row, the warm grit
of ground persistent on your hands,
and songs you belted out over dark crops,
emptying your hoarse lungs:
beating ploughshares into pistols.

Jonathan Diaz lives in Whittier, California with his wife, Abigail. He holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Notre Dame, and is currently a faculty member in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Curator, Zócalo Public Square, and St. Katherine Review.