In four decades of family history on the ranch no immigrant had ever made contact. The effort to capture them, though, is omnipresent in the post-9/11 militarization of the borderlands. The number of vehicles on constant patrol in the Big Bend Sector has more than tripled. Helicopters circle, sometimes for entire days, scanning the hills, bearing down on migrants, driving them to the point of collapse.
In the temple’s farthest corner
an olive tree stands,
silver-green leaves like a shawl,
its trunk braided
down into the ancient earth:
You are witnessed by it.
A boat hums by, and the fisherman
An ocean opens within you,
makes your body a shore
upon which memory crashes—
The first time my father tried to kill me I was seven. We had driven to the Miracle Mile strip mall at the edge of the city where Dad said he had to see a man about a horse. I sat in the backseat and when we parked Dad got out and told me he’d only be a minute. He rolled up the windows and locked the doors.
We seized the night and shook it till it broke, / so time and bottles and most of our shoes / spilled from its breaking—and music gushed too: / Paris and Nikos relentless till five. // Blame them for this minefield of broken glass, / our unreasonable outbursts of joy. / Someone danced until his knees were bleeding. / Someone said she had fractured her being.
Rachel, oh Rachel! Mistress of my heart, irradiated queen of the desert, alien oasis, black-budget fever dream, ghost town of the future, sheepdog disco, heart of America. Shelter me in your double-wides, ll my ventricles with Alien Burgers, stun me with alcohol, swaddle me in the lights of your brilliant night sky.
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