The Ninth Dream:
War (in the City
in Which I Live)

All my life—let me say this so you understand—all my life
I have heard stories of the river and how people were willing
To die to cross it. To die just to get to other side. The other
Side was the side I lived on. “And people die to get here?”
My mother nodded at my question in that way that told me
She was too busy to discuss the matter and went back
To her ritual of rolling out tortillas for her seven children, some
Of whom asked questions she had no answers for. We were
Poor as a summer without rain; we had an outhouse and a pipe
Bringing in cold water from a well that was unreliable
As the white man’s treaties with the Indians, unreliable
As my drunk uncles, unreliable as my father’s Studebaker
Truck. I was six. It was impossible for me to fathom
Why anyone would risk death for the chance to live like us.

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