Border Crossing to the US (Poem)


Every midnight, it trickles to 12.01 AM,
A new day, dark as an apocalypse.
I’m sleeping on a bundled shirt, a makeshift pillow,
No pajamas, only fresh clothes after a wash.
How as I awake, breath comes first,
The smell of pollen, rocky earth and petrichor,
Sight comes next, the eye lids
Letting in light, like a pulled curtain, blinding you one minute,
Illuminating the next, while sound is last,
The sound of whitewater of the Rio Grande,
And the repetitive bird calls.

I remember the day, long ago, when my father
Showed me the North Star, Polaris. How now,
The little bear in the sky, gifts hope, every night.
How a promise land summons us, when we become
Like a compass head, pointing north.
We are oriented by stars, just like how
Conquistadors looked at Polaris,
And set their sails. We hold the rosaries
Tight on our fingertips, while listening to the coyotes,
Howl like wild dogs. How we gaze at pink skies
At dusk, the silhouettes of cacti, like scarecrows,
Rigid, tall, elbows pointing up, while we collect pebbles
As mementos, of where our feet have been.

We look far, as far as, rods and cones can.
We dream of a fridge, filled
With ice creams and sugared fizz drinks,
Just for a brief respite from the heat.
We look at our shoes, knowing how rugged the floor is,
While we slowly walk, encountering streams,
That wash the sediments of films of dirt, and slaps
Against out thirsty tongues. Even in this heat,
The coldness quenches our needful mouths.
We are like Moses’s people, skeptical at
What the new country can offer us.
We volunteer prayers, like angiosperms
Liberate pollen. We hear of New Mexico,
The state name good enough, to lift our hopes,
And still, we would settle for El Paso, any day.

How the green card means to us,
Perhaps, only God knows. We have been praying
Now for years. We believe in prophesies,
And yet we are aware how wrong
The Mayan Apocalypse was. The Baktun was
Erroneous. While the cigarettes, brighten our faces,
As we stand in the shade of our own sombreros.
We hear of Taco bell, the chain, where perhaps,
We can work as kitchen hands. We are
United like cheese-embedded corn chips.
Family units are big, family circles are bigger,
While our traditions remain stubborn. How
We know how to choose avocados at
The Sunday market place, or boil cobs of corn,
And yet what we know best is to
Listen to the Mariachi bands on home streets.
Yet now, we listen to our own heartbeats,
Waiting for the ultimate acceleration, as we
Near the finish line.

There we throw the sombreros in the air,
And hug each other. We even crack a dirty joke,
Knowing we are now in a new country,
Only to go down on our weary knees and kiss the earth,
Then holding our palms in the air, before putting the
Way of the cross, a few times, symbolic
Of our victory, and God’s influence.
That night we look again at Polaris, now
Closer, brighter than it had ever been.
We remember our grandmother who, we left behind,
Picking jalapenos in the back garden,
While we brim smiles, as we look ahead, hope blanketing us,
Like a colorful serape, a Mexican cloak,
That conserves the fire of our dreams,
On a cold, windy, November dusk.

How we feel our bones clatter, and so
Do the teeth, holding a battle-hardened
Body, while the dreams we muled-across.
Across the border, seem no longer like a legend,
Only a room inside a chambered heart,
Smuggling hope. We are now like dogs with
Two tails, the myth and the real,
Chasing one, if not the other.
How the American dream is no fluke, or accident,
Only dirty sleeves, wasted shoulders, soil-covered knees,
A long shovel in hand, searching for
Montezuma’s treasure, inside a glorified sweat shop,
Belonging to a man, called Samuel,
Who was really a meat packer from New York,
Every American calls “Uncle”.

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