Pilgrimage to el Norte

Pilgrimage to El Norte
The government is essentially torturing people by doing this

 

 The people walk thousands of miles
Across Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico
To reach the Promised Land, el Norte
Where men won’t come to rape their daughters
Steal their homes, or kill their sons
For joining a gang or refusing to join
The people will harvest crops
Clean toilets, slaughter cattle, pigs
Work on poultry farms,
Build roads, bridges, wash clothes
Make enchiladas, tacos, arroz con leche
Care for other people’s children
Sweep floors, pay taxes, send their offspring
To college, buy a house, write poetry
Make art, dance salsa, danzón
Sing bachata, reguetón, fall in love, give birth

 

A breast-feeding baby was taken 
From her mother’s arms at a Texas 
Detention center and the mother 
Was handcuffed for resisting

 

Baby
Taken
Arms
Breastfeeding
Detention
Handcuffed
Mother
Resisting

 

When the breast is deprived of the baby
The tissue turns to stone
The ducts stiffen, become infected, inflamed
The breast weeps droplets of milk

 

There is no Promised Land
El Norte is a cruel myth
El Norte has stolen children
For hundreds of years
If the child be of darker hue

 

**Words in italics are statements from the mother’s attorney, published in various news outlets.
 After reading stories this week about children taken from their parents, I took a detour from other writing projects to write this poem. If people only knew the terrible mistakes the US has made in Guatemala and Honduras, El Salvador, and other Central American countries that have contributed to the violence and instability we see today.

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