Journalism In Verse

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A January Thursday in El Valle

in Immigration/Politics by

For President Trump, Who Visited My Hometown on January 10th, 2019

This is the home I know, the Rio Grande Valley,
the place the president calls dangerous:
a place where children play soccer
in the schoolyards, where viejitas
power-walk in parks, where laborers
make their way to work in pick-up trucks
for another long day of making this country great
with their calloused hands and tired feet,
a place where, even in January,
huisaches start to bud in wisps of yellow,
betting on a future of full sun,
a place where congregations of birds
baptize themselves as the sprinklers click on,
from warblers, to mockingbirds, to jays,
the migrants and the natives sharing pools of water.
I wonder if he saw the white crane wading into the resca,
not the symbol of peace, but peace itself.
I wonder if he heard the arpeggios
of the kinglets’ songs as they filled the humid air
with notes of praise for a land that welcomes them
into its warm arms during the winter months,
a warmth that feels a lot like love.
I wonder if he smelled the barbacoa,
the fresh tortillas de harina,
scents of sweet café de olla,
rising from the corner gas stations like incense from an altar.

But I know, for sure, he didn’t hear a single gunshot.
Maybe laughter, maybe birdsong, maybe corridos.
I know the only chaos that he saw
were the flocks of grackles awakening
all at once on 10th and Trenton,
filling the sky with iridescent blackness.
If he opened his eyes, he’d find no state of emergency
as the valley lifted its veil of morning fog.
There is no crisis here except the border wall
threatening to slice into this landscape,
holding a knife against the throat of peace.



President Trump Went to a Border Town to Prove They Need a Wall. Residents Say Otherwise [Time]
In Texas Visit, Trump Presses His Argument That There’s a Border “Crisis” [New York Times]

Katherine Hoerth is from the Rio Grande Valley in Deep South Texas. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing from UT Rio Grande Valley and currently is an Assistant Professor of English at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

Image from @realdonaldtrump Twitter stream.

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