Making America

by David Duer

A house in our neighborhood
is being re-shingled.
The lilting Spanish of the
Mexican roofing crew
can be heard across the creek
through the tangle
of old cottonwoods
amidst the rat-a-tat-tat
of the air hammers
as they nail down the shingles.
Do they get paid well these
men of Jalisco and Sinaloa?

It's hot on the roof
under the Iowa summer sun
and the asphalt shingles are pliable
as they're pulled from the bundles
that were lugged up the ladder
by the youngest crew member.
The pitch has been measured
the chalk lines have been snapped
and the shingles laid to that law.
Do they have proper documents
these men of Durango and Zacatecas?

The crew works past sunset,
putting a roof over the heads
of some American family.
An old CD player provides
a rhythm for the work:
the jaunty rancheras and wistful
corridos of their homeland.
As they nail the final ridge cap
they slice their palms
with the hooked shingle knife,
their blood blessing the roof.
Straddling the ridge of the house,
they begin to dance.
Will they be deported these
men of  Chiapas and Veracruz?



 

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David Duer’s work has been published in Ascent, Exquisite Corpse, Milkweed Chronicle, The North American Review, English Journal, and Poetry, among others. A chapbook of his poetry, To Bread, has been published by Coffee House Press. He is presently an English Language Arts teacher and advisor for the Washington Literary Press at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.