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for my father, who wakes up in the dark, and through storm or errant sickness, must ferry strangers to whomever may be waiting for them on the other side. for my mother, who must don vest and name tag to serve hungry crowds that bite with uncovered maws:

steel their uncured faults, enclose them within your walls;
plant in their garden flowers of joy instead of ashen woe.

for my grandmother, who crossed deserts with naked feet, and once challenged the moon to a shouting match. for my abuelo, who crouched in his dark hut and whose tired fingers turned leather into what gringos called souvenirs but to us were simply gifts:

allow gray fingers to remain remembered forever;
let them unburdened find their way back to you.

for my sister, mother of three and teacher of all things pure as well as practical, our alchemist manqué whose fistful of cash becomes food for a week, even if she must sometimes go hungry. for my brother, who’s lost faith along with his job, whose stony dread sleeps cold and permanent in the pit of his being:

may they drink deeply from hope and nourish their every hunger;
grant them a too safe passage and etch into their hearts your wisdom.

for my brown nephews, children of mine in all but name, who shelter in place against a predator unseen: outside the young sun beckons, while their feverish father scrubs toilets and wipes sullied windows:

give them a world (please) washed clean
and protect them from invisibility,
for to die one must first be unseen…


This poem was originally published in 433 Magazine.


C. Adán Cabrera is a Salvadoran-American writer, translator and editor based in Barcelona. Among other publication credits, Carlos’s writing has appeared in Switchback, The Acentos Review, From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction, BorderSenses, parentheses, and Kweli Journal. You can visit him online at

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