We pulled it from the earth, soil
dripping from it, coloring
more gray than white. Long,
crusted, tips broken off so we
could see the gray honeycombs
of marrow inside. “Dog?”
My cousin, Juan, shook his head,
and stories we grew up on,
things we heard, came back.
Family said that white guy,
the one who owned these fields
before us, the one with the belt,
the buckle with diamonds and bullhorns,
would beat the field workers for being
too slow, not filling boxes quickly
enough, sometimes even to death.
Our parents would scare us,
make us clean rooms or go to bed
with visions of belt buckles glinting,
leaves slowly picked from thin branches,
till they became a switch, to peel
skin, peel back to blood and bone.
There are workers in the field now,
and we can hear a song coming
from them, mixed motor of the tractor,
black heads bobbing above green lines
of the fields. Juan, colors of his Raiders
jersey soaking up so much sun the heat
pours from him, his skin so brown,
almost black now from too much summer,
takes the bone, throwing it at the workers.
“Fucking wetbacks!!” The bone falls
somewhere in vines and dirt, lost.
Juan’s Raiders hat has fallen off,
and his hair glistens from Vaseline
used to keep his curls straight,
plastered to his skin, his skull.