El Descuate

I tried to think of it as an art, the way I imagined gardeners must do when they make animals out of hedges. I’d put my heart into el descuahte trying to leave every tree unique and balanced, as my thumb and index finger would rub raw regardless of the gloves or tape I put on. El Bulle swore by condoms, that they wouldn’t break or wear away like the tape did, but I had my reservations about buying condoms at 15. Others used radioactive lantern kindles that I just couldn’t imagine exposing my skin to for so long, but apparently they worked. Eventually I built up callouses the way musicians do, what the elders knew would happen. There were men in their 70s like my row-mate, jovenes like Bulle in his early 20’s many married men in their 30s, and one or two teens working with their dad’s. One time we entered a field that had just gotten sprayed, and the dust got all over our skin and it burned. They pulled us out after a few hours and some of the younger cat’s throwing up, everybody sneezing. It was summer, weeks before harvest, and there weren’t very many more cuadrillas that needed descuahtando…

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