poem where no one is deported
now i like to imagine la migra running
into the sock factory where my mom
& her friends worked. it was all women
who worked there. women who braided
each other’s hair during breaks.
women who wore rosaries, & never
had a hair out of place. women who were ready
for cameras or for God, who ended all their sentences
with si dios quiere. as in: the day before
the immigration raid when the rumor
of a raid was passed around like bread
& the women made plans, si dios quiere.
so when the immigration officers arrived
they found boxes of socks & all the women absent.
safe at home. those officers thought
no one was working. they were wrong.
the women would say it was god working.
& it was god, but the god
my mom taught us to fear
was vengeful. he might have wet his thumb
& wiped la migra out of this world like a smudge
on a mirror. this god was the god that woke me up
at 7am every day for school to let me know
there was food in the fridge for me & my brothers.
i never asked my mom where the food came from,
but she told me anyway: gracias a dios.
gracias a dios del chisme, who heard all la migra’s plans
& whispered them into the right ears
to keep our families safe.
Copyright © 2021 by José Olivarez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 12, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“My parents were undocumented when they moved to the United States. I wrote this poem hoping to honor the power of the undocumented women in my family and in my community. They knew everything. I'm in awe of them.”
José Olivarez is a poet, educator, and performer from Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of Citizen Illegal (Haymarket Books, 2018), winner of the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize, and co-editor of the forthcoming BreakBeat Poets Vol 4: LatiNEXT. Olivarez is the recipient of fellowships from Poets House, The Bronx Council on the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, CantoMundo, and others. Winner of the first annual Author & Artist in Justice Award from the Phillips Brooks House Association, he is the cohost of the podcast The Poetry Gods and lives in New York City.
Date Published: 2021-01-12
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/poem-where-no-one-deported