It’s strange feeling, having your rambling-as-stanzas published in literary magazines. I’m going to ruminate on the inspiration for them, mostly because I want to better understand why I do this. Unfortunately I don’t want to post the actual poems because they’re all in publications you can purchase and I would hate to screw over these magazines, and I would also hate to see my work posted on some joker’s Instagram. With that in mind, I’ll break it down by the stanzas and go in-depth as best I can.
Title: The Privilege of Gardening – PALABRITAS Magazine
Why submit there?
I wanted a Latinx publication because the poem had that theme baked in. Simple as that. I also wanted to support a student-run organization, because I’ve run publications when I was at school and it was tough.
So I’ve helped my mother with her gardening since I was a teenager. This hasn’t changed – I’ve helped on winter and spring breaks in college, and when I moved back east I resumed my work as her manual laborer. At times it becomes meditative, hence why this is the seed (no pun intended) to this poem. The stanza describes those moments when I work in the backyard, my hands dirty and ready to place seeds for plants that somehow got through customs.
A continuation of the narrative, starting with a command in Spanish from my mother and a careless thought of my gardening. This comes from actual events, and is the crux of where this poem came from. that disregard in comparison of where my mind was going.
The chorus, so to speak. two lines, meant to cap off the narrative of my gardening with my mother. Again, it’s meant to push the almost-indifference to the action of planting a seed. You ever wonder if you can be so blasé about something so deliberate?
I remember reading or watching a bunch of reports on undocumented kids crossing the border into the US. Images of them jumping onto La Bestia and braving a deadly train ride into an unknown future. Then I read the reports of how those very same kids were the ones harvesting the tobacco plants in the cigarettes you’re smoking. Dark stuff, and while I don’t smoke my immigrant experience still has a connection to it.
Written in the same style as stanza 2, but in the POV of those kids. I could only imagine it as an exponentially harder level of raw labor than anything I could do in my parent’s backyard. All I could see was what the reports would say, of workers passing out of dehydration from the uncompromising sun. Poor new bodies for the soil, and it made me feel so insignificant.
Same chorus style as stanza 3, hammering down the abject neglect to the undocumented. Where stanza 3 was meant to show disregard to seed, it takes the same energy to how we don’t give a single damn about those people in the fields. The only ones that do are there families.
What Does This All Mean?
It’s a matter of remembering how you take for granted what you do at home in comparison to what the disadvantaged are forced to do just to survive. I still have family members sin papeles that have to hustle however they can, and I’ve worked with the undocumented. It’s a matter of perspective.