He proudly holds his hand-picked greens
Above the plants he sowed himself.
With eyes like stones he sees beyond
This fertile ground, these Southern Hills
Towards another wooded home.
So far from Vietnam, so far
From where he left his family
To find new work and guarantee
A steady life or something more
Than what they’d have as refugees.
While all his plants took seed and grew
To feed his new community
His arms grew thin, his legs looked frail,
He stumbled as he picked the weeds,
And finally he asked if he
Could hunt a couple squirrels for food.
He nearly starved to save his crops
For those who bought them from the farm.
So Steve and Lee, who hired him,
Packed up fresh cheese and meat, as well
As plenty of his vegetables,
And sent him home to rest and eat.
Was it his pride that kept him from
Enjoying his all his hard grown crops,
Or was it dignity and grace?
Or maybe it was something else,
That every crop he didn’t eat
He sold instead, a dollar more
Towards his wage, and closer still
To moving all his family
From far off camps to Southern hills.
He’d rather starve for weeks than spend
A day without his family.
(Poetry copyright 2010 by Devin Routh. Used with permission.)