Like a Prisoner of Soft Words (2)

C. D. Wright

We walk under the wires and the birds resettle.
We know where we’re going but have not made up our mind
which way we will take to get there.
If we pass by the palmist’s she can read our wayward lines.
We may drop things along the way that substantiate our having been here.
We will not be able to transmit any of these feelings verbatim.
By the time we reach the restaurant one of us is angry.
Here a door gives in to a courtyard
overlooking a ruined pool.
We suspect someone has followed one or the other of us.
We touch the spot on our shirt where the ink has seeped.
The lonely outline of the host is discerned near an unlit sconce.
As guests we are authorized not to notice.
We drop some cash on the tablecloth.
We lack verisimilitude but we press on with intense resolve.
At the border, under a rim of rock, the footbridge.
Salt cedars have grown over the path.
The water table is down.
And we cannot see who is coming, the pollos and their pollero,
the migra, the mules, the minutemen, the women
who wash for the other women al otro lado.
Or the murdered boy herding his goats after school. 6:27,
the fell of dark, not day.

Editor’s Note: This poem appears in Wright’s new volume of poetry, Rising, Falling, Hovering (Copper Canyon Press). In an author’s note, she explains her use of some words found in the poem. Pollo (Spanish for “chicken”) is a term used for undocumented immigrants. Pollero (“chicken farmer”) is a term for their smugglers or guides (also called coyotes). Migra is a term for border control agents. Al otro lado means “on the other side.” In her note Wright also adds: “A gruesome description of the human body’s stage-by-stage collapse in failed crossings is found in Devil’s Highway (2004) by Luis Alberto urrea.”