Essential Worker

The other day someone asks

“How is your family doing quarantine?”

I say

“My dad is an essential worker”

And what they don’t realize is that Papi has been an essential worker for 30 years now

His brown arms always cutting meat into pieces palpable enough for us to consume

His sunburnt forehead always sweating as he works 16 hours shifts 3 times a week

And his brown eyes now always filled with fear as he goes into work to be


See Papi has always been essential to us

Raising 10 kids his job was


Moving to America with no papers his drive was


Trying to give us an education, a chance to be something, his love was


I’ve always known that Papi was an essential worker

Now, everybody else sees it too

But what they don’t see is how much sacrifice it takes to be essential everyday

They don’t see his hands

No longer able to bend from the repetitive motion of factory work

They don’t see his skin

Course and broken from extreme temperatures meant to preserve cattle meat

They don’t see his eyes

Worn and tired from so many years of fighting for the American dream

Only to realize that this dream was never meant for him

But for us

And like so many other essential worker

Papi will continue to make that sacrifice for us


This poem is about: 
My family
Our world


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