The Young Hands that Feed US

Berenise holds her 2-year-old brother, Manuelito. She spends much of her free time caring for her youngest brother. ©2018/Jerry Redfern

It was the last day of March of 2018, the day before Easter, the season of onions. By mid-morning, 16-year-old Berenise had already loaded a few pails. She held sharp, rusty shears that demanded careful precision; one slip, and they could take a finger. Berenise worked alongside her 10-year-old brother, Salvador, and her parents a few paces away. Sunlight beamed across mile after mile of flat green fields, broken only by a few dirt roads. When it’s harvest time like this, multigenerational families, from young children to grandparents, cluster among the furrows. The land is scattered with plastic pails, packing crates, and a few blue porta-potties. Onions blanket the ground, as far as the eye can see; the air smells sweet and sharp. Human backs form U-shaped curves of habit, heads covered in hats and hoods, pants and fingers stained with chlorophyll and mud. Continue reading → The Young Hands that Feed US

The Death and Life of Frankie Madrid

The Life and Death of Frankie Madrid

Frankie couldn’t come back across the border, but his ashes could. They traveled in a small red wood box. His brother Beto put them inside a carry-on bag, and they cleared the metal detector at the port of entry in San Luis, Arizona. The box sat next to him on the ride back to Flagstaff until he placed it in his mother’s arms.

Beto had made the 500-mile journey to Hermosillo, Mexico, hoping that he would find Frankie alive, but he knew his mind was playing tricks on him. It wasn’t until he opened the casket at the funeral home that it hit him: Frankie was gone. There were scratches on the side of his neck, ears, and face, and the undertakers had dressed him in a buttoned-down white shirt with a black bandana pattern that Beto knew Frankie would have hated. Beto gave him a hug and a kiss with a soft, “I love you.” Outside the funeral home, relatives whom Beto barely remembered rushed to hug him and give him condolences in a Spanish he couldn’t grasp. Continue reading → The Death and Life of Frankie Madrid

For pregnant women, getting the COVID-19 jab is a challenging choice

Valeria Fernández after getting her first Covid-19 shot on April 23, 2021 Massachusetts, May 7, 2020.
Credit: Charles Krupa/AP/File photo

When I found out that I was pregnant in early February, Arizona had barely begun its COVID-19 vaccine rollout for essential workers. I asked my midwife what she thought about me getting the shot, and she recommended it immediately. 

I wasn’t a priority yet for vaccination. I was 42. Occasionally, I would get a tip about leftover vaccines at different clinics. One time, I jumped in my car and I drove 40 minutes. But I had no luck…Read more