John Olivares Espinoza

No Weeds, No Work


      If there were no weeds, there would be no work, Dad says. He’s a machine sliding his hula-hu through the weeds carpeting the rose bed.  I lag behind, raking, collecting weeds in dusty mounds until they are too heavy for the rake.  My sore hands struggle to drag it another inch. The sun burns my nose, the tips of my ears.  It will be hours before we quit and months before returning to the cool air of a classroom, more sleep, and fewer lunches for Mom to pack…

     I’m raking citrus leaves in my dreams again, even years later. I rake my first pile; toss it into the receptacle, then another one appears.  The leaves never stop coming.  My mother in shorts appears on her knees, helping me scoop leaves into the can.  I tell her, If there were no fathers, there would be no work, as if somehow this was her fault.  Her knees are scraped and bleeding now.  The leaves never stop coming.  I clean her wounds but the blood keeps rising.