Journalism In Verse

Carlos Hernandez Vasquez

Death by the Numbers

in Photo Challenge/Politics by

Six is the number of children who count,
                six dead migrant children,
                six dead detained children,
                six dead in nine months.

Number six is Carlos from Guatemala,
who left home, left hunger, left danger,
walked north, walked to hope, walked to safety.
Sixteen years old when he died.
                Detained May 13,
                dead on May 20.

(Seeking safety,
murdered at the border—
Jorge does not count.)

Number five is an unnamed toddler.
                Detained in April,
                dead in May.

(Drowned in the Rio Grande,
ten months old
he does not count.)

Number four is Juan de León Gutiérrez, age 16,
“a very humble child full of dreams.”
                Detained April 19,
                dead on April 30.

(281 people died trying,
never made it to the promised land,
never got detained—
they do not count.)

Number three is Felipe Gomez Alonzo,
eight years old, who came with his father.
                Detained December 18,
                dead on Christmas Eve.

(Seven years old,
lost in the Rio Grande
they do not count.)

Number two is Jackelin Caal,
seven years old.
                Detained December 6,
                dead two days later.

No dead children for ten years.
Six dead children in ten months.

Number one is a little girl from El Salvador,
ten years old.
                Dead in September 2018.

This child had a heart defect.
That child was dehydrated.
This child had an infection.
That child had the flu.
We have excuses.
We have six dead children
and counting.

 

———

Mary Turck lives and writes in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has published extensively as a journalist, and has published one chapbook, Forest City Poems.

———

He survived the 1,000-mile journey to the U.S. He died days later in custody.
[CBS News]

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