Diapers

By Juan Delgado b. 1960 Juan Delgado

INS officers raided a building, taking twelve illegal aliens
into custody. The owner was cited for employing workers
without proper identification.


1. RAID

Ernesto’s boot heels are wild hooves
Being roped in, left bound in the air.
Carmen, slow-footed, nauseous with child,
Fights them off by swinging her purse.
“Pinche cabrones saben hablar español
Cuando nos van a arrestar,” she says
As her voice is drowned out by a row
Of washing machines on their rinse cycle.
Like a cat spooked out of a trash bin,
Sal runs into the street.

Chorus: ¡Chingado!


2. A GIRL AND HER FATHER

We were driving through town, Mama,
Right by where people pick up the bus
When this man jumps out right in front of us.
Dad hit the brakes. His eyes got this big, Mama.

He was running from the law, that’s for sure.
Just be glad no one got hurt, mija.
Try not to think about it anymore, mija.
We won’t go that way again, that’s for sure.


3. THE FACTORY

Two of the old-timers talked about unions:
“A trabajar, porque hablar de las uniones
Sólo trae la migra de nuevo.”


4. A YOUNG MOTHER

Can you imagine how many diapers
We went through with the twins?
The disposable ones were way too expensive,
So we switched to cloth. They were great. No,
We didn’t wash them. Thank God, we had a service.
We just put the dirty ones in plastic bags,
And they picked them up and dropped off clean ones
Right on our porch every two weeks.
It made things so much easier. And you know,
We didn’t have to worry about those summer rashes
Because their little bottoms could breathe better.
If you can afford the service, just do it.
Or at least do it for the first six months.
It’s even good for the environment.


5. JEFE

No son gallinas
Esperando un huevo.
¡A trabajar!

Chorus: ¡Chingado!

Juan Delgado, “Diapers” from A Rush of Hands. Copyright © 2003 by Juan Delgado. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: A Rush of Hands (University of Arizona Press, 2003)

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Poet Juan Delgado b. 1960

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Crime & Punishment, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Mexican American poet Juan Delgado first started coming to the United States with his family when he was a child. He attended California State University, San Bernardino, where he studied accounting before discovering writing and majoring in English. He earned an MFA from the University of California, Irvine, where he was a Regents Fellow. Delgado’s collections of poetry are Green Web (1994), selected by poet Dara Weir for the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Crime & Punishment, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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