On the Way to Ojai

Alan Chazaro

 

I don’t know how to say what needs saying so I’ll write

this poem instead. It’s about orange orchards and vineyards

huddled beneath the Santa Ynez mountains. It’s about

migrant workers—their parked cars, the heat, my privilege

in watching them bend above bundles of lettuce. Driving through it all

I see pro-Trump signs, Blue Lives Matter flags and Confederate

symbols lining dirt roads. I don’t mean to be this

American, but I am. I’m on my way to Ojai, crossing

through a central Californian desert. The sprinklers are squirting

and the workers become oceans in open fields. My air conditioning keeps me

cool as Too $hort escapes the speakers. It’s the first time I’ve driven

this far south in years. At the gas station, a white man

tells me I don’t need to wear my mask around here. He looks me in the eyes.