Eloisa Amezcua is an Arizona native. Her poetry and translations are published or forthcoming from BOAAT, Prelude, The Journal, and elsewhere. Her chapbook On Not Screaming is forthcoming from Horse Less Press. You can find her at www.eloisaamezcua.com.
Watching Underworld, Inc. Episode 3: Human Cargo
The Pima County Morgue,
approximately 110 miles
from my childhood home,
houses John Doe, Jane Doe,
[sexless] Doe. Dated remains
found in the Sonoran Desert—
nameless and alone. The medical
examiner holds a fragmented
cranium, points to where
the eyes would go.
I cross the borderxxxxon foot.
My fatherxxxxxwaits for me
in the McDonald’sxxxxparking lot
one blockxxxxxxinto America.
I standxxxxxxin the line
Francisco, a people smuggler
in Nogales, says his secret
is training others
to hide and survive.
I don’t remember muchxxxxfrom middle school
US History—xxxxxxxxwho lead the troops
that tookxxxxxxFort Ticonderogaxxxor who forced
General Pembertonxxxxxxxxxto surrender in 1863—
but I rememberxxxxxxxlike yesterday
xxxxxxthe sound of my mother’s voice
practicingxxxxthe Pledge of Allegiance
before herxxxxxxxxxxnaturalization ceremony.
A Border Patrol agent
explains how after five days
on foot in the desert,
skin begins to split
from the burning sun—
flesh exposed and open.
Nothing can be done once
the breaking has started.
xxxxxxis a word
In Phoenix, Magdalena buys and sells
moneyless migrants wholesale—
their families unable to pay off cartel
trafficking rates. Three women/girls sit
one room over, faces hidden with pillow cases—
they’re background. And Magdalena, she talks
a tough talk, says business is business
and business is good. Her face concealed
by a black bandana and mirrored sunglasses
reflecting the camera back into itself.
When the show’s over,xxxxI’ll call my mother
xxxxxjust to hearxxxxthe sound of her voice.
Como estas?xxxshe’ll ask.xxxxxAnd I’ll lie,
tell her things are finexxxxxxxthe way
xxxxxxxshe’d sayxxxxthe same to her mother
thirty years beforexxxxxxxxxxwhen she moved
to this countryxxxxxxxxxxxxxxalone
xxxxxxwith her husband.xxxxxxxxxxxI’m haunted
by that for her.xxxxxxI moved thousands of miles
awayxxxxxxxxalonexxxxxxxxxxjust to feel
closer. Beforexxxxxxxxxxwe hang up, she’ll say
Dios te bendiga,xxxxxxpicture me signing myself
or kissing a crucifixxxxxxxxxxxI can’t bring myself
to wear.xxxxxA blessing I don’t need
but I take itxxxxxxxxanyways.
WALKING HOME ALONE: AN INNER MONOLOGUE
map your surroundings
locate another womanxxxxxxxlocate
a group of womenxxxxlocate a well-lit space
xxxxxto stop and punch
9-1-1 into your cellphonexxxxxif needed
hold your cellphone hold your thumb
over the green ‘dial’ buttonxxxxxxhold
xxxxxxyour cellphone inside a pocket
your keys in the other
xxxxxxxhead between two fingersxxxxblade sticking
out from your fist like a small rhinoceros
xxxxxxx[whose only predator is man]
wear clothing with pocketsxxxwear nothing
that clings to your shapexxxxxxxxbe shapeless
don’t look scaredworriedpanickedxxxdon’t look
friendlyapproachableopenxxxxdon’t look back
don’t smilexxxdon’t not smilexxxxxxxdon’t
come undonexxxxxxxxthe key is to go unnoticed
the key is to get where you’re going
the key is to hold yourself
inside of yourself as long as you can