You pray they would catch a break but, as some say,
That’s life, terrarium life, wetter than ever, sodden actually
As a planet tries to cleanse itself, the sky a shroud
Filled with loss: the Camp fire, tornado debris, volcano dust,
A father and daughter washed upon the shore of the Rio Grande.
How much more can we take: the tears overflowing
The banks of a river never created to be a border
A sky so full it weeps upon our shoulders
So heavy, we are always at the flooding stage, sorrow
That should penetrate our comfy homes, leaks from
The nightly news, the weather report, the front page
Drowns out the curses and threats hurled upon humans
Fleeing El Salvador for a place that could spare a blanket,
A toothbrush, a helping hand.
Should one blame the father, the mother for wanting something
Better for the child, themselves? Death was not what they envisioned
As they traversed the bitter deserts, tried to ford a river
Just as your own mother, age 14, crossed a different border,
Was called a herring choker, left school to escape the taunts,
Scrubbed other people’s homes, made a life of labor and love
While another man’s mother fled the tidal flats of Scotland,
Her pebbledash home, married a man made rich from fleecing the poor,
So coarse Woody Guthrie made a song about his racial hate, how she
Wore her own “dynamic orange swirl” of hair, drove her son
In her Rolls Royce as he delivered newspapers. The president would brag about
His teenage job, never the mother with humble roots, English her second
Language, buried with the wealthy in All Faiths Cemetery while another mother
Watched her husband and their daughter drown, so close to the American dream
They could almost touch the bank, almost step from the water.
They named the girl Valeria, which means Strength.
She was two years old.
Yvonne Daley is a career journalist who returned to poetry for sanity in these troubled times. She lives in Vermont, still a sane place.