The second chapter of One Day of Life begins with the early risings of Lupe, the central figure in the text and the grandmother of Adolfina—this time at 6am (Argueta 19). Her early rising is connected with the sun rising—is connected to Lupe’s relationship with her faith and her ability to work as a “keeping by the Lord.”
Lupe recounts, “I always cross myself in the presence of the morning star. With the Lord I go to sleep, with the Lord I awake” (Argueta 8). This relationship—the rising fullness of this beam of warmth and the rising fullness of a child in a mother’s womb could be another extension of keeping—the way a mother, or the Earth itself, keeps her children, labors for her children. The fullness of a mother’s stomach could be seen as a harbinger of new work and, thus, the conference of a new deed, title and/or rights.
Another symbol of the laboring woman as harbinger is the child in the mother’s tired arms. On the road to Chalate, Adolfina is sitting next to a woman carrying a child. The sun is scorching. Without looking at the gender of the child, Adolfina zeros in to the fact that it is a girl. The way that she is both cooed at and chastised. The girl being carried says, “I’m thirsty,” and the mother replies, “Be quiet, dear, we’re almost there” (Argueta 79). It is as if Aldofina could sense that a girl-child allows the mother to speak both to herself and the public in a search for empathy and the ability to publicly lament—since the mother herself has to display a courageousness above complaint. Like the Latinx man who only could complain via throwing a fight in a bar about the burden of his racialized masculinity—a migrant woman-mother can only complain with a child in her arms, with the weight of her burden before her.
Yet and still, the mother, it appears, speaks about the child as if she is a chore. The habitualness of work is a kind of music staff onto which to hinge the collective happening of the trauma of family separation and death. For the migrant in a strange land, work becomes a well-spring of common pain and relief from which to draw in order to feel less alone, targeted or vulnerable.
The habitualness, however, with which grandmother Lupe references her faith practices dovetails from the ability to lament about the conditions underneath the sun.
It appears as if Lupe is seeking to be the kiskadee. Lupe is expressed through her work ethic. She moves as if she is not seeking relief from hounded existence but to walk right into it as a kiskadee—as Christ would—as a kiskadee into a fight with a hawk.
Argueta writes of the kiskadee, “It is the only brave bird—it even fights hawks. It gets on top of them and rides their backs, and no matter how the hawk flips and turns, the kiskadee sticks to it” (Argueta 78). That is same kind of courageousness that is presented in how the rancheras and rancheros exist and think about Kilometer. “The people here like to sing. And laugh over nothing. Almost all of us are poor but we don’t consider it a disgrace. Nor something to be proud of” (Argueta 19). Part of the access to work, then, for the broken body is access to the ability to “courage up” to display or perform resilience.
In resiliency for the migrant or ranchera or laborer or mother is the ability—the proof of concept—to argue for a vital function in the larger social group. The laborer identity, particularly that of the mother, is an identification card beyond the limitation of borders, time or space—yet, like a song where the staff is made up of the same five lines—laboring for the stranger in a strange land has to be re-packaged such that it is palatable to the populous within whom the labor seeks refuge.