Bienvenido al Purgatorio

Fresno Couple

Photo © Tom Clark, 2011

When she arrived, I wished
mi cara welcome to Purgatory,
this stopover on our journey
from Hell to Heaven.
It is much like the fable
the black padres taught us about
the comforts of the Afterlife.
A myth, no more. But a myth
is better than nothing. Yes?
Perhaps a Heaven really is just
over that hill where the sun
sleeps with tomorrow.

For tonight, though, I am sleeping
with mi ángel, a gift like
cool rain dropped from the clouds.
She comforts my dreams
with her body as I hold
hers together with mine.
Our coupling is a prayer
for the rest of our journey,
where, without fear, we test
the truths of Purgatorio and Paraiso,
because muerte, death, is just
another fork in our road.

I wrote this free-write poem in response to a prompt from my friend Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday for June 14, 2013. She asked me to look at some dramatic photographs from multi-genre artist Tom Clark. I chose this one and tried to I imagine a simple man lying there with his lover trying to reach their Paradise together…one way or another.

Secret Harvest

By Joseph Hesch

They hide their faces
like pickpockets,
pulling ruby and garnet
from the Macs’ green folds and
from the secret places of Northern Spies.
Black and brown folks, shivering
in a northland that knows mostly white,
from the bosses’ faces,
to its mountaintops, 
to its Aprils.
They work hard, paid maybe enough 
to support their families and a life 
that sends them to places that 
will never be their home.
That’s why they hide their faces,
so they won’t have to go Home.
But Federales with badges and
cameras are always trying to
send them back.
Back to El Salvador,
to Jamaica, 
or to Mexico.
After they climb from the ladders
for the last time this season, and
gently unload their treasures into
great grey boxes that dot the orchard,
all the pickers want is to trade
the red gems for some green to travel
to Louisiana for the rice,
to Florida for the celery, or
to the grocer’s for their kids.

Autumn is, give-or-take, a couple of days away. This time always puts me in mind of my days in the North Country of New York. Apple country. It also reminds me of a story from when I was working as a baby reporter. I was sent to do a simple apple harvest piece at an orchard near Plattsburgh. There were quiet people all over the place, most of whom would never make eye contact with me. After talking to the owner of the place, I stepped away a bit and pulled my camera out to take a few “atmosphere” shots to illustrate the story.

“No photos,” the Boss said. “Put that camera away.”

“But I’m just taking a couple of shots for the story. It’s such a bucolic scene and…”

“No photos, I said.” The Boss sounded pretty stern, but I tried igmoring him and looked through my viewfinder, composing what I thought would be my only shot.

I felt his hand on my shoulder and when I turned, he put his hands on his hips, pulling the front of his jacket open and revealing a revolver attached to his belt.

“No photos, yes sir,” I said. And hauled out of there back to Plattsburgh.

When I got to the office, my boss explained the fellow at the orchard was protecting himself and his workforce, which was comprised of more than a few “illegals.”

Like I said, I always remember this story when the first batch of apples enters the house. You don’t think he really would have shot me, do you?

“Secret Harvest” is my post for today’s dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night, which I had the priviledge to host last week. Check it out and enjoy some of the fruits of a world-wide array of special poets.