THE DEATH OF A MIGRANT WORKER
My father died in the bathtub, his head
banging against the stainless-steel handles.
The blood from his head—useless now—poured out,
slow as thick soup.
It was no concern of his.
His life had ended before any of that.
The blood, he didn’t need anymore, was the only thing moving; the rest of him—
arms that had worked a thousand fields,
held his babies and hauled buckets of coal for the stove.
His hands calloused, that had tried to mend unfixable things,
and one leg crooked from a break
that never healed right …
all of it motionless now.
Dead before he hit anything.
My father died in mid-air like a bird
shot out of the sky, like a hawk circling then
disappearing beyond a horizon, falling—
somewhere out of my reach.
—from The Death of a Migrant Worker
2021 Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner
Gil Arzola: “The Death of a Migrant Worker is a gift and monument of words to my parents. It is a way of saying ‘these people passed through this way’ and here’s what they did.”
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