Writing

There are no stops when crossing the border

I am often asked about my father
A man who crossed the so called
border
His mother paid a coyote
To stuff him in a trunk
Then walk faithfully through Colorado
In December of 1979
Not knowing much english
$20 in his pocket
He bought the dreams you sold him

I think about how
Even 40 years later
His favorite meal
Is a Whopper with fries
The first meal he bought
When landing in America
With little oxygen to breathe
And soaked in his own urine,
I imagine my father emerging from that trunk
His limbs
cracking as he stretched
His lungs
expanding as he inhaled.
Deeply
Assuredly
Safe
and with hope

How the bite of that hamburger
An American staple
Was his first taste of freedom
How over time he bought what you sold him
Put down the fish and plantains and cuey
Traded it for burgers, 401ks, and investments
How he poured into your tax system not just with dollars
But with three law abiding,
Citizens of these United States.

I think of the people who thought him a janitor
Despite wearing a suit for interviews at software companies
And how as children we laughed at his “bad luck”
With the countless traffic stops he’d had
Traveling the streets of his own neighborhood.

But mostly I think of him now
Proudly wearing a red hat
“Make America Great Again”
On his pilgrimage to Washington DC
On the 4th of July this very year
Your shock at who he voted for
cracks my heart wide open
Because you’re overlooking it all
The trunk
The breath
The burger
The suit
The portfolio
The dreams you sold him:
A subtle erosion of culture,
His assimilation as protection,
His vote in favor of a system
that never wanted him.
He is yours now.

But I am not.

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