At your burial
we wondered if you made it to heaven.
The preacher by your coffin,
he closed his eyes, prayed, then shrugged:
              Solo Dios sabrá. 
Nervously, we left the cemetery
hoping you got there all right.

You did make it all the way here, after all
to Selma, California.

You crossed into this country at night
against the advice of your father,
with abuelita right behind you,
te veniste.
Deep in water
you carried my mother on your shoulders,
begged her not to cry so the migra wouldn’t hear
as the currents fought you in the river
that divides Nuevo Leon, Mexico from Texas.
Poco asustado, pero you made it.

Your new American life was spent
working before the sun clocked in
until you saved enough to move the whole family,
now seven of you,
to California.
Against their doubts,
quejando y repelando
you made it.

Here, your family of seven,
cleaned seven rows of whatever was in season:
oranges, peaches, tomates, grapes,
you left those rows clean,
collecting a days worth of sweat, hunger,
and pennies to put away.
Thousands of acres later
you had enough!

You had enough.
With a fistful of money and hope
you opened up your own tiendita
affectionately called La Nuevo Leon Market
Pa’que sepan de donde somos
Y quien somos. 

Customers driving in,
they all knew that you, Mariano Zavala,
made it.

As we got into the car at the cemetery,
And left you to your next adventure
I wondered if those who guard the gates
were strong enough to stop you from crossing.

Adelante Abuelito,
perhaps illegally,
but I’m sure
you made it. 

Marissa Candy Raigoza is a writer and teacher living in Fresno, California. Her work has been published in Flies, Cockroaches, & Poets, San Joaquin Review, and Chachalaca Review.

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