Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Land of Promise

The children are crying from the hunger
That has plagued his family for generations
Because the meager sustenance purchased
By a hard day's labor barely keeps them alive.
At five feet, two inches, Jose is the tallest
In his family of nine surviving siblings.
His heart is full of fear because the only
Way to improve his family's lot is to travel
North across eleven hundred miles of desert
To where the opportunity for a difference begins.

Across the river is a patrol that seems ever vigilant
Yet the stories abound that there are many ways
To enter the Land of Promise. The small sack
That carries all his possessions is no hindrance
But also no help, because none in his family
Have ever managed to save enough to pay the
Fees that the "coyotes", the human smugglers,
Demand for safe passage. So, it must be the river.

Lost in a wilderness of thorns, he wanders
Searching for water that his body needs
To replenish the reserves which are almost depleted.
He stumbles across a stock tank that,
Although stagnant and warm, provides
That which is necessary for survival. He hears
In the distance the sound of a motor approaching
And knows that he must hide if he is to
Reach his cousin that is supposed to be
Living somewhere in San Antonio.

After weeks of travel, mostly on foot,
He knocks timidly at the door of Fernando,
His mother's cousin. Reluctantly he is allowed
To enter where he is fed and through family news,
Eventually accepted as someone to be trusted.
If only he could find some job that would
Give him the means to live and to send money
Back to his family he would be happy.
He is told there are no jobs to be had here
But, there is work in the feedlots far to the north.

Ernesto drives a truck hauling produce from the
Valley to Lubbock and he will take you, but
You must be careful to do everything that he says
Because the Patrol has been watching Ernesto.
If they catch you, they will send you back.
You must stay beneath the tarp Jose, if you
Want to make it safely. You will be on your
Own to get from Lubbock to Hereford, but
Once you are there, find Emilio, he will help you.

"Can you drive? Can you use a rope? Do you
Know how to doctor cattle? Do you speak any
English? Do you have warm clothes? I will
Get you a Social Security card and a driver's license
To use, but you must remember, your name is
John. You will bring your check to me when
You are paid and I will keep part for the rent
You will owe me, part for your food, and part
To pay for the card and the license. You will
Shovel the feed bunks and clean the tanks
And anything else that they ask you to do."

Six months later, Jose/John can speak enough
English to get around without much help. He
Lives with three others in a room behind the
Laundromat where they cook on a single hotplate.
He has sent twelve hundred dollars to his family
That he misses very much. It is a fortune to them.
In this Land of Promise the work is hard. He yearns
For the day that he can return to his home
And start his own business and a family.


Incognito said...

enjoyed perusing your blog.
I have enjoyed writing poetry, in the past.
has been along time since my last one. I think you have inspired me to start up again.

Anonymous said...

hmmmm...did you know that Fox News did a special where they sent someone down to the border and filmed the people, US citizens, who pay to illegally cross the border from Mexico into the US? I guess it's just the thrill of the chase. How sad that our world has come to this...