The girl crosses from city to forest, hand in her father’s. The girl crosses
the rivers, riding her father’s shoulders. She crosses the dark under stars
her father says are our ancestors watching us, and she crosses the valleys
where dreams land her, calling out for her father who’s hidden off in the brush
where he crouches to gather them edible roots. She crosses long stretches of hunger
and thirst, and her father tells her it isn’t much farther north. The water
they find to drink is the water they find. They cross brown streams, more narrow
rivers, she tires, her father tugs her along by the wrist, as firm as he must,
as gentle as he can be. She crosses back and forth between wake and sleep
on her feet, crosses the last stretch of dust before her father draws her under
the shadow of the tall barrier and lets her slump, lets her fall to her knees
and she drifts, crosses deep where her rising fever’s wide brown river runs
in a haze toward the sea, and she lets the river take her, before her father or anyone
sees she’s not there for the final heave, not there when the agents seize her father
and her, she’s not there in her wobbly limbs nor behind her swimming eyes,
she can’t ask for the fresh water her blood’s long-shrunken rivers still need,
she slips away off the sand of their first perch on the banks of the Promised Land,
and crosses into forever elsewhere, father squeezing the air for her hand.
Jed Myers is author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), The Marriage of Space and Time (MoonPath Press, forthcoming), and three chapbooks, including Dark’s Channels (Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Award). Recent recognitions include The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Prize and The Tishman Review’s Edna St. Vincent Millay Prize. Recent poems can be found in Rattle, Poetry Northwest, The American Journal of Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, Terrain.org, Solstice, and elsewhere. He is Poetry Editor for the journal Bracken.
Photo of Jakelin Caal via her family.