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                          The child                              
                                                            at the border
                                                           cries
                   from the gas,
                                                            yes,                 
                                                            but also
                     from hearing
                                                            the mother’s
                                                            panicked voice
                                                            scream syllables
                               nobody
                                                            on the other side
                   understands,
                                                            this language of
                                      itch
                             and pain
               and desperation,
                                                           this language
                       of uncertain
                        tomorrows,
                                                           of whipcrack
                                                           yesterdays,
                                                           this language
                   practiced only
                           to beg for
                                     life     
                                                            of the men
                                                            no one can
                                                            see,
        the men whose eyes
               are covered with                             
                                                            dark masks.
                                                            The men
            whose hearts are
                                                            covered
                                                           with Kevlar
               and the butts of                            
                      dusty guns,
                                                           and none of this
                                                           the child
                                                           understands,
                          this child
                who has found
                                                           no reason
                                                           to speak yet,
                      reason only
                          to weep.
                                                           If she could speak,
                                                           if she could shout
                                                           the crucial word
                           frontera,
                would anyone
                                                            listen,
                                                            would anyone
                                                            reach             
                a hand across–                 an open hand?
                                                           Who
            on the other side
                                                            would hear
                         buried in
                                                           her one-word hymn–
                          frontera
                                                            frontera
                                                            a word
                      that means
               the same thing
                                                           in two languages:
                             terror?
                                                          ¿Terror?


Jo Angela Edwins lives in Florence, SC, where she teaches at Francis Marion University and serves as the poet laureate of the Pee Dee region of the state. She has published poems in various venues, recently in Amethyst Review, Willows Wept Review, and One Sentence Poems. Her chapbook Play was published in 2016. She loves cats, gardens, chocolate, and murder mysteries.

© 2022, Jo Angela Edwins 

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