Listen to me read the poem here


I stood at home and wept.

I wept at the sight of hostas and Queen Anne’s lace
   and petunias and lambs’ ears
   that grew
   while I was in the desert.
I wept in gratitude for rain I did not see or hear
   or feel on my skin
   when it watered my gardens
   in my absence.
I wept with shame that my garden can thrive in neglect
   and yield tomatoes that I do not earn and flowers
   that bud and blossom to my surprise.

I wept out of loneliness
   in my empty house while my family traveled without me
   jealous of those returning to homes
   filled with family and animals while
   my welcome was an overgrown garden
   and a swarm of houseflies.
I wept for the intimacy of the journeylaugh
   that we will not experience or
   articulate in the same way again.

I wept for the young people who traveled with me.
I wept in awe of their strength and resolve and beauty.
I wept out of longing to remain with them through
   graduations and grief, weddings and wounds.
I wept with trepidation that I have set them on a path
    from which there is no turning back
                                         no turning back.

I wept for the activists we met and the thousands they represent.
   the dead and dying in the desert
   the detained and deported
   those who spend their retirement keeping strangers alive
   despite a broken, soul-sucking system
   the women who fled punches at home to be
   beaten in detention and who use aching and beautiful hands
   to form pupusas for dinner and write to a stranger in jail
   and block the doors of the courthouse in protest.

I wept with rage at militia men and women
   who hunt humans for sport
   and call it allegiance to the
   GOD FORSAKEN flag of the

ChollaI wept remembering the cholla and the saguaro and the prickly pear that
   maim and lacerate
   in their struggle to survive.
I wept, admitting I am soft and weak and
   intimidated by a cactus’s
   desperate will to exist.
   I cannot see its beauty.

I wept for our species,
   vicious in our will to survive.
   I fear that toughness
   I fear the hostility
   I fear the violence.
I wept because I cannot change the world
   because I will never fix a damned thing
   because I must act and it must be enough
   to carry me and these beloved forward
   believing our doomed lives have meaning.

I wept at the thought that my children may
   inherit little more Border
   than a countdown
   to our own extinction.
I wept because it is my job to prepare
   them for a future I fear.
I wept that I cannot
   give them a will to survive.
What I have to give is the will
   to remain insistently, sacredly human
   to love
   to listen
   to call forth the humanity in others
   to see the beauty of every being fighting to survive.
I wept because when the human race ends
   I fear it will not be beautiful
   but brutal.
   The worst and not our best.

I hear that the desert is beautiful.
I cannot see its beauty.

And I cannot spend all day weeping
so I hold my children and my husband
and I tell my friend she is precious
and my colleague he is a gift
and my youth they are an inspiration
And I share my tomatoes in exchange for Jeremy’s beans
And I join the NAACP and listen
And I attend a union negotiation and listen
And I sit on the porch when it rains and listen
And I drive Mindi to the doctor
And I watch Gracie’s children so she can survive

And I write.
   I listen and I write
   I breathe and I weep
   And when my voice is needed
   I speak.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on Hopping Hadrian's Wall and commented:
    My wife’s thoughts on her recent mission trip to the borderland.

  2. Beautiful and moving ,,all I can say is AMEN

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