The same shirt pulled over the same head
not once but again and again, a eucalyptus turned
inside out. Brutal, foam-white,
the sea tore at its rocky coast. Route One was
forsaken. The big house was unlit, the plowed yard
a pool of rain. A cloud ceiling
pressed yet lower. Along worn cliffs
in the farm workers’ small-windowed shacks, stoves
burned into the dark of the day.
It was Sunday, but only the storm made it
Sabbath. In flooded fields, unharvested
Brussels sprouts clung to their stalks.
Note: In a winter of record rainstorms in Northern California, Cesar Chavez undertook a 24 day fast in support of United Farm Workers’ boycotts. The poem also honors an earlier farm workers’ union, the Federated Agricultural Laborers Association. In 1939, Filipino labor leaders, Francisco Varona, Macario Bautista, and Lamberto Malina,, led the first successful strike in Northern California’s coastal fields of celery, garlic, and Brussels sprouts.