RCC Honors History Project

Poem-“A Short Tobacco Day”

Posted by kameron1 on May 6, 2009

A Short Tobacco Day

Sergio Sanchez

FLOC Associate Member

March 7 2007

It was a cold morning

Still dark,

Before the sun came out

And the sounds were silent

I was dressed

Old shoes

Work pants

A long sleeve shirt

And a hat

With my head inside it

It was me, my mom, my dad, my cousin, and other people

Families and friends

All together

We made a group

From about five to ten

They were humble, angry, needful, hopeful,

Committed, accustomed, smart, serious, drowsy,

Ready, hungry,

Young and old

We all got on the van

Piled up sometimes

We all got on the van to go

We arrived at the field with rows to be suckered

That meant we had to clean the plants

Of shoots between the leaves and stems

I was dry

But as soon as I stepped into the course

It was time to get wet

The first hand I placed on a plant

Sent drops of ice cold water piercing

Through the garments I was wearing

To my skin

I hated that first splash of water

I still shiver to this day about it

From inside

From somewhere deep within

I couldn’t say anything about this yet

It was still too early to admit


Everyone else felt the same

You could feel the presence of people’s muscles and emotions getting tense

When they placed their first hands on a plant

I heard it

And I knew

So I kept it to myself and proceeded

To run my finders through the glue

I mean the leaves and stems that left

The worst of any sticky residue

I was never the size of a plant in height

And the leaves constantly touched my face

As I reached high into the plant

The smell of pesticide tobacco smothered me

In place

The smell was like celery sticks and car emissions

Being blown straight into your face

Only your whole body absorbs

Like it’s mouth to mouth resuscitation


Directly to your pores

If you wiped your lips with your tongue unknowingly

You most certainly got a taste

And as the day went on

When the sun reached its peak

Fresh air was gone

All there was

Was more tobacco, stronger pesticide, and worse heat

Sweat was why everyone was now soaked

To get through with my course quick

Was the only thing I hoped

It was like running inside a giant pipe of propane gas

Not trying to breathe in the fumes

Holding a lighter in hands that would light

If I stopped not being through

The pressure was on me to finish

Me and the whole crew

At this point

At the end of every course

I could feel my organs rejecting the abuse

Some coughed

Some vomited

Others pounded on their heart

And closed their eyes

When it skipped several beats

Or totally stopped working for a few

Others felt their head throbbing

From their body temperature raised like a fever

This is why I never smoked

Or understood why people smoke as a leisure

When time came to leave the fields

Everyone was somber

There weren’t any smiles or any horseplay

Even from the younger

No one said a word

After all

We know

Tomorrow’s day would be longer



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