On Sunday May 12, 2019 I was honored to present this and other poetry at the El Paso Mother’s Day Rally to End Family Separation and Child Detention.
Life is short for children detained in cages.
Just like livestock was one ill-considered defense.
Children housed in tents under a fierce desert sun,
small protection from the equally chilling desert night.
Like summer camp was another deplorable explanation.
Lacking only the toxic showers rained on los antepasados
who crossed bridges looking for work. Someone whispered
about los tios, buried in an unmarked grave in South Texas.
Life is short for children who never heard of Nazi death camps,
with showers also fitted to spray poison on the heads of innocents
then buried in other unmarked graves somewhere across the sea.
And now children’s names fly through the air on soccer balls
kicked over fences, like butterflies bound for oblivion, they fly
over walls of el corralon, a corral for humans in a hostile land
where life is short for stolen children, and the land is blackened
with the blood and bones of working people yearning to be free.
Source: song of a cane flute by Donna Snyder
song of a cane flute
…we are the children of bridges, bridges made from our backs, our tears, our sacrifices, and from all the ones who never made it across with us…. Junot Díaz
low tones solid as her father’s sweet bread
high notes sing the vibrato of son jarocho
of a woman near tears but speaking still
words deep within the memory of cells
the cells are theirs
the lengua is theirs not mine
I can’t presume to speak their truth
yet their indomitable vigor lifts me up
fills with me with a sense of solidarity
a feeling of common purpose
and feelings need not be truth
but are still facts
the strength of la gente bears me up
out of the inundation of hate
their strength through persecution
through the suppression of truth
their unbroken backs carry me
across the chasm seen between us
a bridge between fear and resolution
inspiring me to be a revolution
this bridge called their backs
when I slip and fall I see shoulders and arms
rise up from where knocked to the ground
and those hands reach out to steady me
stand me on my own feet and take my hand
the gift of strength from one heart to another
a kind word from one tongue to another
the gift of memories not mine but shared
like the voice of a cane flute
calling out to the stars
Photograph taken by Henry Arrambide on January 8, 2015 at BookWoman in Austin, Texas
Photograph taken by Henry Arrambide on January 8, 2015 while reading at BookWoman in Austin, Texas
I’ll be reading at BookWoman in Austin, Texas on January 8, 2015
Flyer by Victor Hernández