Published on Academy of American Poets (

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


Copyright © 2020 by Jasminne Mendez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 15, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Inspired by Idra Novey’s poem Nearly, I wrote this poem while researching border politics in the Dominican Republic. I was at the beach with family one afternoon when a group of Haitian migrant men and women came to sell us their wares. Within five minutes of their approaching, a small golf cart with two ‘beach patrol’ officers picked them up and arrested them. In this poem I wanted to juxtapose the simplicity and joy of a day at the beach—a place that is often seen as paradise by tourists, with the violent act of being arrested and possibly deported from that same space that others call home.”
Jasminne Mendez


Jasminne Mendez

Jasminne Mendez is the author of Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poems (Arte Público Press, 2018).

Date Published: 2020-09-15

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