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Monday, November 22, 2010

Tell Them You Don't Know Who Those People Are

I am eight. Us kids sit
according to age...the older ones
get the windows.  I am in the middle.

My eyes have swallowed whole
a picture of what Mama’s doing
all dressed up for some fun

Though this is not that cuz we're at la linea.
I remember what I'm supposed to do.
Even though we don’t believe it,

we all say “American.” Except for Mama.
She has to explain that she's not.
She gets her picture out to prove it.

Its on a shiny plastic card she keeps
it hidden so I rarely see it. I remember
another thing I need to remember cuz

I might never see it again. I look at it.
She hates it when they take her picture.
She says she’s dark, short, and ugly.

I think it’s because she’s
beautiful, wise, and dominant
that she was turned into a document.

It is green to say she’s different,
not deserving of white, the color of
barbies and brides. She’s driving us from Juarez

and back to California. The trick
is that all the people we love have to
stay here and we have to leave them

until they come see us only when its dark night
they rush in, clean up, and leave before the sun
comes up. They say, “We’ve just come to say goodbye.”

And Mama says, "Quick take your lunch...
I'm not kicking you out but you better get
going." NO, I think but don't say it.

I run fast and go hide my face so nobody knows
in a towel that hangs in the bathroom.
It's still wet from my tio’s shower.

We crossed okay but then got pulled over by
one of those green trucks. Nobody told me this
would happen which was a good idea

cuz I was so happy when I noticed my tio
--what was he doing out on the highway?
So happy he’s coming too and he got across

---But, no, oh! Mama's scared now
she looks back at us and says, “if they ask tell
them you don’t know who those people are”

"but there's my tio," I wanna say and Mama looks
into my eyes to say shut it up. And when the man 
wearing green comes over to talk to her

Mama says she doesn't know nothing. He don't 
believe her so he turns asks David my brother.
“Who’s that man? Do you know him?

Is he traveling with you?" David’s mad
but he don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone.
I look out at my tio and I look in at Mama. Then I hear

my brother speak, “Why are you asking?” And he 
remembers, like a good boy what he needs to say,
"I don't know who those people are."

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