A project of the Center for Community Change

Poem for El Dia Del Padre

For M.A.A. and A. A.L.

The girl slips her hand into his
Imagining the words she will speak
In his own language
Papi, quiero pizza
Without sensing the words on his mind
Deportación, migra, que será de la reforma, m’ija?
Or even
“Illegal alien”.

They walk the narrow sidewalks,
And from behind there is nothing alien
About the way her body hugs his.
She has the same gait,
Legs short and lagging in city traffic.
The soft down on her back is his,
And they raise the same thick wealth of eyebrows
At the line of cars.
Father’s Day in a New York minute.

They continue past shops and greet,
Although the only Spanish she speaks is whispered at bed,
Among kicked-off covers in the lone room they share,
Her sticky little face molded into his arm.
Or upon leaving her school in the afternoon
Amidst a flurry of mothers pecking at their clothes
And herding children along while
He waits to take her hand,
His work uniform still pressed from the morning
And his black hair shining.

Still she listens to the señoras and understands
As if she were the one they were talking to.
She has no idea
That one day soon
She might need to use this language to ask
Her family
Why her father had to leave.

– Sarah Harden

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