Along the Border

                                        after Idra Novey

On a dirt road

On a drive to el campo

You found a batey

I cut the cane 

We sucked on a stalk

You gave me your arms 

I swam in the river

We locked the door 

Then the lights went out 

And the radio played 

You fingered the pesos 

I walked to the beach

We fried the fish 

You ate the mango  

I jumped in the water

We bought the flowers

Then the migrants came

And you bartered for more 

Then the sirens blared

And they were carried away

But we didn’t stop them 

Then the ocean swept

And the palm trees sagged

They were foreigners

We were foreigners  

And we lived there

Related Poems

The Border: A Double Sonnet

The border is a line that birds cannot see.
The border is a beautiful piece of paper folded carelessly in half.
The border is where flint first met steel, starting a century of fires.
The border is a belt that is too tight, holding things up but making it hard to breathe.
The border is a rusted hinge that does not bend.
The border is the blood clot in the river’s vein.
The border says stop to the wind, but the wind speaks another language, and keeps going.
The border is a brand, the “Double-X” of barbed wire scarred into the skin of so many.
The border has always been a welcome stopping place but is now a stop sign, always red.
The border is a jump rope still there even after the game is finished.
The border is a real crack in an imaginary dam.
The border used to be an actual place, but now, it is the act of a thousand imaginations.
The border, the word border, sounds like order, but in this place they do not rhyme.
The border is a handshake that becomes a squeezing contest.

The border smells like cars at noon and wood smoke in the evening.
The border is the place between the two pages in a book where the spine is bent too far.
The border is two men in love with the same woman.
The border is an equation in search of an equals sign.
The border is the location of the factory where lightning and thunder are made.
The border is “NoNo” The Clown, who can’t make anyone laugh.
The border is a locked door that has been promoted.
The border is a moat but without a castle on either side.
The border has become Checkpoint Chale.
The border is a place of plans constantly broken and repaired and broken.
The border is mighty, but even the parting of the seas created a path, not a barrier.
The border is a big, neat, clean, clear black line on a map that does not exist.
The border is the line in new bifocals: below, small things get bigger; above, nothing changes.
The border is a skunk with a white line down its back.

Border Patrol Agent Will Not Complete His Shift

March 2014

After the three women turn themselves in, the man drives them
from his river of fasting to a hungering brush-brimmed spot.
On the mother’s wrists, he engraves his ennui, though her pulse
will not submit. Like caravels, mother and daughter break free
from his grip.Through horrid hosanna he tries to split
frontiers with his buckle. Begs the girl to forgive his feet.
In the back of the truck, blood & duct tape. It takes a toll
to corral the nervous hooting, the lamb’s inefficient hands.
A throng of crows splashes on her thin shoulders, on soccer
net poles that struggle to deflect the man’s frantic entrances,
his tenacious fiddle of lust. Rosaries drape on deserts
clotting inexperience. Gunshot after midnight. Maybe asylum.
How will they entomb that absence in his mouth after the verse
of his head has unlatched to fill tulip gardens the length of stars?

Nearly

When we slid out of the lane.

When my sleeve caught fire.

While we fought in the snow.

While the oncologist spoke.

Before the oil spilled.

Before your retina bled.

Beyond the kids at the curb.

Beyond the turn to the forest.

After the forest turned to ashes.

After you escorted my mother out.

As I led your father in.

As the dolphin swam the derelict canal.

While the cameras filmed it dying.

While the blackout continued.

When the plane dipped.

When the bank closed.

While the water.

While the water.

And we drank it.