I See Ghosts That Haunt the Barren Fields

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

As a boy, I often found myself with my dad, in the company of braceros, caballeros and ordinary young and old American men of Mexican descent, gathered around camp fires or on the bank of a lake, relaxing and basking in the coolness of the evening breeze, as it bounced off the glass-like and glistening blue-green liquid pool of solitude.

I SEE GHOSTS THAT HAUNT THE BARREN FIELDS

By Al Garcia

As a boy, I often found myself with my dad, in the company of braceros, caballeros and ordinary young and old American men of Mexican descent, gathered around camp fires or on the bank of a lake, relaxing and basking in the coolness of the evening breeze, as it bounced off the glass-like and glistening blue-green liquid pool of solitude.  Caked in the dust of sun-drenched fields, their jeans and shirts stained with the sweat of a long day’s labor, they sat, or laid on their backs, enjoying the respite of the approaching night, looking upwards and admiring the vastness of the universe that laid beyond the clouds and the blueness that stretched out into the blackness of infinity.  Even they could imagine and conceive, and even dream.

It was on evenings like this, tired and exhausted, that the men talked and shared glimpses of their lives, told stories they had heard, and recited family myths and folklore told and retold, generation after generation.  And as a naïve young boy of six or seven, I listened in awe and absorbed every word, as I watched the clouds begin to darken and the sounds of the night begin to pierce the stillness of the ending day.

This was the early 1950s in the Rio Grande Valley.  The time before the electronic revolution invaded our imagination, inspiration and ingenuity.  It was the time when sitting under the stars was the best shown in town -- and best of all, it was free and without reruns or commercials (something that didn’t even exist back then).  Every shinny dot I saw in the night sky was bright and new and magical.  And every shooting star a wonderment to behold.  This was my legacy as a child in the Valley of long ago.  I was given the universe above, the green, green fields and pastures that nourished and sustained us on the ground below, and the spirit and humanity of those around me to teach me, guide me and enlighten my heart and soul with the legacy that was my past.

And so, I grew up listening to the history and the mystery of my past, while watching the night sky come alive above me.  It was the most natural of pass times, and part of the ritual of growing up brown along the Rio Grande.

The stories I heard were of men and of women, strong of body, of mind and of character.  I heard their names and could almost imagine from the stories that I heard, the features of their face and tenor of their voice, and even envision the clothes they may have worn.  Each story seemed to come alive inside of me, and then seemed to have always been a part of who I was and who I would become.  It was the most natural of feelings to know that they were somehow a part of me.

I think back to those bygone days with envy and with regret.  Envy that the braceros, caballeros and ordinary young and old American men of Mexican descent who once sat with me beneath the canopy of stars, lived and shared their dreams, despite the tyranny of omission and submission, with my ancestors who helped to mold and build the Valley of today.  Regret that I only have their stories to imprint into the memories of my mind as their legacy of dreams and hopes that are just emerging in the lands and fields they toiled with their sweat and tears and dreams.

I see ghosts that haunt the barren fields of a Valley once filled with promises and dreams.  I see the roaming specters of defeated souls seeking refuge in the hearts and souls of those that dare to glimpse the source of their despair.  And it is the stories that I heard around a campfire or along the bank of a calming lake on moon-lit nights, that wake the tortured ghosts of forgotten souls who find shelter in my grieving heart and anguished soul, as I remember the glory and the agony of their existence.  And I see ghosts that haunt the barren fields in the Valley I call my home.  They drift aimlessly through the once barren and open lands, now filled with music, laughter and the promise and the dream that so evaded them so long ago.  They still search for the peace they were denied, and the acceptance they never felt. 

And I still remember their names, their images and their voices on starry nights, as I look up and see the unchanged vastness of the universe above.  Their stories of struggles and courage, of love and endurance, and faith and forgiveness, still haunt the recesses of my mind and heart.  And I feel humbled to be a part of their evolving dream that ignited and now sustains the flame that helped light the way for me to be.

I see ghosts that haunt the barren fields.  I remember them.  I know them.  For I am a part of them, and I, like them, are now at peace.


Submitted: May 24, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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