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my father takes me

to the farms

where the sun is shining

bathing the rice paddy fields

with a warm

golden light

the workers are already there

harvesting each stalk


by one

sweat dripping down their sun-kissed faces

I hitch the kalabaw

to the wagon

wince at the memory

of tumbling down its bumpy rump

the small stones from jeering children

ricocheting off its back

narrowly missing my head

those are bad people

my father had said

I blink

clearing my head of those painful moments

and begin the day of work.

*kalabaw: Filipino buffalo

Growing up, my auntie would sometimes tell me stories about her life back in the Philippines. I would always cherish those moments - they were like a special bonding time for us, and I always listened intently, curious about a world so different from my own. I once asked her if she missed those days, and after a second of hesitation, she answered yes. This poem is in honor of her - a snapshot of an ordinary day in the life she gave up for a better future.

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