Blooming in El Barrio

For a while my father’s tongue 
Has served to the word poor 
My mother’s hoarding of 
Old clothes 
Indicating she was never letting go 
Of the things she never had before 

Our rental home 
Built near a railroad 
Placed in a neighborhood 
Of First generation of immigrants 
Who grow up with nothing but innovation and aspirations 
Oldest child used as a translator 
First born daughters, becoming copies of our mothers 
Younger brothers and sisters molding to be better than the top three 

Group of kids sharing advice and tips 
To survive 
Playing marbles outside 
Borrowing each other toys or movies 
All taking turns to ride a bike 
Celebrating birthdays with hot Cheetos 
Spending our parents change 
On cookies and just looking 
At the things we all starve to have 
Grab each other’s hand 
And walk back as pack 

The sun sets 
And Trails of Work boots 
And strawberries stains 
that are painted on their hands 
Leading us to our roles 
Of helping our parents 
With all that we can 
Eating our rice and beans 
our parents putting all their energy to staying up with us 
Or doing their best to understand our school materials 

And before the sun could rise 
We wake up to lock the doors 
And be left alone 
To fend for ourselves 
Because our mothers don’t have the luxury 
To being housewife 
Nor our father’s have the luxury to allow their wives to be part of their children infant life
When income is a necessity 
At the end we watch 
Our parents head out to work on fields 
That they don’t own 
Never reaping of what they sow 

We have encountered the hardship 
Of having a culture that migrated 
And is part of us 
Whether we speak English or Spanish 
Our parents don’t really talk about 
The way they crossed 
But it's a given rule 
To take a stand when strangers 
Tell us to go back 
To our main land 
Even though I and others were born here 
From the opposite side 
Of our Mother’s and father’s homeland 

It's here in the ghetto, 
In the projects 
In the barrio 
That our collective custom is to 
Share what we have 
Give what we can 
Live among a land 
That is built upon 
The hard work of our undocumented parents 
Aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends 

Because, we make things out of the very little 
But that’s the culture of survival 
And though the goal is to leave 
We could never forget 
The barrio, for all it made us to be 
Barrio is just like a mine 
And we are all just diamonds in the rough 

And as season change 
Our humble homes remain 
But hope never fades 
To bloom, in this place.

--Raquelin F., Adult