For the more than 60,000 children from Central America who cross the border unaccompanied.
With lines from Maya Angelou and Richard Wilbur

Arcing above our apartment building,
          above the rousing city and green skirts
of the San Salvador volcano, a flock
          of wild parakeets comes to roost
outside our window; my nine-month son
          rests his head on my chest and all I want
is to draw the curtains, but he’s coughed
          all night and now his breathing
is slow, near sleep, though his eyes snap open
          with each squawk. I imagine the parakeets
preening their emerald feathers, joyful in their ceremony
          of clacks and trills. They are not musing
the capriciousness of nature as I am; they don’t know
          five thirty am, only that the sun has tinged
the mountainsides gold and that this alcove echoes
          their welcome beautifully. The wild parakeets tap
at the windowpane and my son stirs,
          raises his sleep-etched face to mine.
Together we slip past the curtain and discover
          seven green parakeets, perhaps a little smaller,
their feathers scruffier than I had envisioned.
          Two squabble over a prime niche and the stronger
one comes towards the glass, wings unfurled,
          fat tongue thrusting from his open beak. I want
to unlatch the window and sprinkle seed, lure them
          to perch on our shoulders and arms, anything
to make them stay longer. Instead, my son, rooted in
          the things unknown but longed for still—
greets them with the slap of an open palm to the windowpane,
          and in a clapping of wings
they leap from the narrow corridor at once, a raucus fleeing,
          with headlong and unanimous consent,
a disappearing stain, a distant murmuration
          swallowed from sight.

La Cachiporrista

Because I can’t take a photo through the bulletproof glass
as our car eases to the corner that merges with the highway,
where a chop shop displays its wares of cars quartered
to fenders, grilles, rims, spoilers—I will have to remember
the man’s hooded eyes, as he watches from behind the wire
diamonds of chain-link, the whirling wrists of a teenage girl
in a majorette skirt fashioned out of half-inch-thick strips
of cut newsprint, the fringe swaying with her hips
as she twirls a baton of broken broomstick
in circles, wrist over wrist, and tosses it high as she
turns to catch it fanning behind her back; and the sun’s light
pressing on the square patch of a roadside garden
of black-eyed Susans, zinnias, and dahlias in plastic
gallon jugs and rusted tins, the halved car tire that serves
as a trench to keep out the leaf-cutter ants that could easily
strip the lime sapling bare in the course of one summer night.

Five American Sentences

To prove to an unseen someone, a future self, that I am enough.

A loved one drowning, just out of hands’ reach; hover your hand above a flame.

That person is gone from this earth, what we could’ve evolved to is finished.

You are now in this world without his esteem, untethered, the string snapped.

I too, someday, will end, & this forgetting is a kind of freedom.


The snake always slips into the bushes when I start down the path.
The snake is just the tail end of what’s happening.
The snake doesn’t look back.
The snake is not an animal I identify with.
I mean, it’s a garden-variety queen snake but I’d still lop off its head with a machete.
Isn’t it expected that one thing will chase another?
Isn’t it normal to want your space?

About this snake, it’s not the kind that holds its tail in its mouth.
About this machete, I do not own one.
About this path, I chose it.
It’s narrow.

About this metaphor, it stretches out like a tightrope.
And these lines force one foot in front of the other.
And these steps are the ones I have to take.

About the snake, I must circle back.

About the time I left the door open.
About the zero surprise I felt when our eyes locked.

As if what I needed was a mirror.
As though I would always lead her in & back her into a corner.

As soon as I extend my hands, she coils into her self.
As soon as I take another step, she slashes the cord.