Growing up poor and Chicano in the barrio
parents working in the fields is all we know.
They tell us to go to school and learn all we can,
get educated and create a life master plan.
Knowledge and determination will be our shields
from low paying, back breaking work in the fields.
School breaks and summer vacations weren’t fun
our parents would take us to work out in the sun;
there was no shade or sunscreen to be had
just working in the dirt rows behind mom and dad.
I remember the embarrassment and shame
if in class, my parents’ occupation I had to name.
Only other fieldworkers’ kids understood
how it felt growing up poor in the hood.
One house shared by a dozen family members;
three bedrooms, one bathroom; ask mom she remembers.
It was tough living in a crowded house
shared with so much familia and the occasional mouse.
Yet, there are many fond memories;
the fun we had, all of the stories.
Riding our bikes or playing ball in the street;
Walking to the corner house for a snow cone treat;
Hot summer days cooling off in the irrigation ditch;
Scary stories of our neighbor, a mean old witch;
Shopping for school clothes at the thrift store;
Watching morning cartoons as we lay on the floor;
Homemade frijoles, arroz y tortillas
made with love by mom, nana and tias.
Our parents couldn’t give us the best things;
no fancy clothes or shoes, no diamond rings.
What we received was more precious than gold,
in a store it couldn’t be bought or sold.
Mom and dad taught us to have faith in God above.
They gave us the greatest gift of all, unconditional LOVE!