Published on Academy of American Poets (

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


José Olivarez

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

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