Rio Grande

Poem: Eloísa Pérez-Lozano’s ‘How Far You Are From Me’


A version of this story ran in the November 2015 issue.


I’ve never had to swim through el río like you,
your clothes heavy with water and hope
as you wade carefully against the current.

I’ve never had to run like hell from la migra
Or have a sixth sense for avoiding trouble
Because even a whiff of it makes you sick.

I’ve never had to mow terrazas in humid air,
the sun sapping your energy every minute,
your hand-me-downs soaking up sweat every hour.

I’ve never looked for chamba outside of Home Depot
as you convert passing cars into meals for your family,
hoping you look able enough to warrant a stop.

I’ve never toiled in el solazo of the orchard fields,
rows of brown bark blurring up into green gardens as
branches bend like your back, weary from your load.

I’ve only crossed over el río on foot or by car,
answered the Border Patrol’s preguntas with confidence,
Offered you limonada during your break from our lawn.

It’s why I always try to meet your eyes with dignity when I see you
as I wonder how far you are from home and at what cost,
stopping to think you might have picked the apple I’m eating.