Along the Rio Grande by Lorraine Caputo


Along the Rio Grande


I peer into the night
    & see plywood homes
        & expanses of desert plains
In that darkness, that vagueness
    I see the land's silhouette
& occasionally the shimmer of a
    sheet of lights covering the night border

I want to tear away
    these veils of darkness

I want to see the maquiladores
    just on that other side
   & their toxic pools in which
    children play
& their babies born
    without brains

Tonight under this one-day-from-full moon
   is it as quiet for the INS
       as I imagine it to be
Or are they, once more
   beating, raping, killing a latin@

Do they really have a wall built
      as I have heard rumored to exist
  across desolate stretches of desert border
A wall to keep "them" out, from stealing "our" jobs
   a wall to keep us in this capitalist prison

Are there really thousands of
  National Guard troops patroling
     that vastness?

Is that river out there full
   in its glory of rushing water
Or is it just a trickle left
   after a million thefts
     by agrobusiness & industry?

If someone this night wades across
   will he fall to this bank
      writhing in pain as
        something attacks his brain
Death holding him
   until the last breath comes
      in a day or two

What is it in that water
  that kills?

In the empty spaces of this darkness
   I want to see those houses
     people are building
Because they can't afford rent
   they can't afford to buy
I want to see the faces
     of the authorities
  who dare to rip apart
     those hand-made homes
Do you dare destroy them
  on a night like this
    when the moon would
       reveal you?

But on this night of a moon
      one day from full
I nod off to sleep once more
   tired from travel & boredom
The frustrations settle once more
  within my womb
    until I birth them
       in a poem, a letter
          a demonstration, a direct action
Until I once more am
  conscious
      & speak


Originally published in Canadian Dimension


Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 150 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa; 12 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014), Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017) and the upcoming On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019); and 18 anthologies. She has also authored a dozen travel guidebooks. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada chose her verse as poem of the month. Caputo has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia. She travels through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.