What have we become as a nation?
|Christ Bleeds in the USA Too |
El Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico
© Ana M. Fores Tamayo
My poems "Elegy to a Refugee Girl / Oda a una niña refugiada" will be published in a book entitled Detained Voices / Voces detenidas, edited by M. Montserrat Feu Lopez & Amanda Venta, from Sam Houston State University.
For Father's Day, for World Refugee Day, which this year falls on Wednesday, June 20th, all fathers should be with their children; all children should enjoy, with their families, the freedoms afforded to those of us in the free world.
These are freedoms they seek, freedoms we are denying with impunity. Let us reflect, then, and act. I leave you with these thoughts while you read, in either English, or Spanish below...
Elegy to a Refugee Girl
The teacher collected the young child's drawing.
Looking it over, she stared intently
at the little girl's work:
a young child, separated by bars.
a large splash of crimson covering the trees she had drawn.
A larger lady in the background faraway,
brown on brown her hair falling wildly
on the page,
so that all she could see
were splashes of sepia with a little green
but much more blood red.
the wild woman seen in the image
had something shackling her ankle,
her face blotched with droplets upon her cheeks.
What did you paint, sweetheart?
the teacher slowly questioned
the young child with the immense, sorrowful eyes.
And the girl looked up, giant eyes tearing,
my mami, she whispered.
my mami was taken away.
She flew to the trees there, to the blue in the sky.
She was put in that carcel, you see?
but her spirit flew
like the birds when they soar through the sky, stormy yet safe.
And the teacher stared at the sanguine red, what seemed
to be the color of gore,
and again she gazed inquisitively at the child...
My mami is a rose,
and the wilderness in her spirit breaks free
as she wails for my papi, red blood screaming pain.
Me escondi, a stifled sigh to the teacher.
I hid myself under the cama, the bed skirt muting
my silent shrieks
as I saw my papi's red sangre spilling from him.
I stayed still and quiet under that bed
afraid they would see me,
those ugly green suits
taking my papi and hitting him, again and again,
so that he
became a scarlet jumble of pain.
my mami had no time to react as those ugly men
took her and threw her on top of me...
they did not know I was hiding under the bed.
But my mami knew, and she tried to be still
as the beasts tore into her, they ripped off her clothes, I think,
they strangled her cries, they heaved themselves
on top of her.
First one, then the other. Then a third.
My mami did not move.
I sang blue songs in my head and listened to the fairy birds
ringing out their tune of love, of my mami and papi
and their love for me...
It was a long time the men were there and my mami not moving.
But finally what seemed to hump and hump and hump again
and the bad ugly men in their green army suits all splattered with red were gone.
I stayed under the cama, afraid to come out
afraid to have the red stain my hands, sink through my fingers.
so I crawled into myself, staying below.
But finally I felt some movement.
My mami came back from the skies
from the blue heavens with the loros singing...
she did not leave me, she stayed that rosa in the ground
for her baby girl.
my mami stumbled almost falling.
She lowered her body
crawling beneath that cama,
holding me, closely, loving me, touching me to make sure I was real
flesh and bone and not the red of my father,
the body limp without movement.
His eyes -- I finally saw -- were open wide staring blankly
at nothing. No heaven was open to his
rust stained drip
spilling all over the floor.
I knew my mami was hurt.
I knew it was hard to walk
but we took off, my mami and me,
and we traveled the death roads for heaven
thinking if we made it to el norte, good people would see us and
gather us into their embrace.
How strange it is that I am here in a school while my mami
is jailed for a crime she never committed?
For being forced by some bad bad men and she only trying to save me?
Why is it that others do not see mi dolor, my mami's ache,
because I weep inside
like a salamander who hides in bright colors?
The teacher looked at my drawing again, then she looked at me.
I saw her face, too, blotched with droplets upon her cheeks...
Why does she cry like my mami? And will I see my mami again?
Why do these ugly men -- now wearing blue suits instead of the green I despise --
take my mami away?
Why have they placed me in this escuela,
in this place with other sad children who
say nothing look at nothing feel nothing
because ellos también tienen miedo?
Please teacher, maestra, take me to my mami.
Don't let her cry alone, por favor...
Don't let her fly in that cell room forsaken,
let me be with my mami, please.
I don't want to learn English,
I don't want fine things if my mami is destroyed in your cell.
the young girl with the immense, sorrowful eyes
voiced long silent stabbings with her muted gaze.
You are killing me, not softly, not kindly, she uttered.
|Madonna & Child at the Border|
© Ana M. Fores Tamayo, 2014
La maestra recogía lo que había dibujado la niñita.
¿Qué pintaste, corazón?
Being an academic who was not paid enough for my trouble, I wanted instead to do something that mattered. Thus I began to advocate for marginalized refugee families from Mexico and Central America.
Working with asylum seekers is heart wrenching, yet satisfying. Their pain, their sorrow, their joy, is quite humbling. Moreover, being with them has helped me with my own sense of displacement, since I too was a child refugee, trying to find a new home.
But this is the refugees' life today: I have seen it, I have heard it, I have cried tears with them through every phase. I have sat in the court rooms as they await news of their most definite deportation, and now I share their agony with the world, so that we realize it might not have to be this way…