They sit, side by kindred side,
silent in the cacophony of a crowded migrant laborers camp,
hands bashfully wrapped around the
pearl of life that grows within each one.
Two widows, with Mona Lisa smiles,
look embarrassed to be fifteen.
Or was it sixteen years old?
Alone, without their husbands,
brothers, who found love in the
apple orchards, or the asparagus fields, or
maybe interlaced among the ribbons of
grapevines in the Eastern Washington valleys.
I blink back the sorrow that wells like a
tincture of silver in the corners of my eyes.
The migrants watch me blink back the silver.
The brothers were gone.
Their brief presence on this
earth ended with
speed melting into metal,
metal colliding with fury,
fury surrendering to death,
on a contested lane of asphalt,
broken stripe down the middle
I blink back the tincture of silver.
Each bride is too young to know the dead,
too young to strap a baby to her back
and walk along the rows of the fertile fields
to chop, or trim, or dig, or pick tender
crops with small and fragile fingers.
The tincture of silver overflows the
banks of my resistance,
clouds the panorama of my eyes,
subdues the color of youth,
and transforms the stoic portrait into
black and white.
Now that they are aged,
the brides may properly
grieve for their dead.
Soon, they will be mothers.
Soon, they will press their lips soft
against the ears of newborn babies
and whisper a story of death,
a tale of the fathers-to-be.
too young to be dead.
© 2004 J. Andrew Rodriguez