“Water Crossing” by Maurisa Thompson


Water Crossing

by Maurisa Thompson

where would you go if you had to run?
through the canebrake, machete leaves
that draw less blood than the lash—
run from those that steal children
run, would you wade in the water
wade in the water children
god’s gonna trouble el agua, las fábricas
pockmarking the land like plantations
the two shirts on your back worth
10 cents per day—
run, on the snake-back of a train
burnish your footprints
from the earth with leaves
from the sand with wool
because they are always behind you
smelling for your blood your body
they would pick from their teeth, run
where would you go to find your mother?
because they think you hold a different god
on your tongue—run from the vice grips
from the armies who twist bayonets in your womb
who forge hells of fire falling from the sky
from bullets that blistered the walls
like tracks of heroin needles on arms
where would you run to?
what possible death
would you choose?
would you dare to ask whatever angels
for safe passage and water to cross
would you set your compass, your eyes
on a star tilting in your vision
and run, run, run, run, run—

and if you could finally stop running
if your heart for a day a week a century
pulled back from throttling your lungs
and rested, and rested, and rested
would you still shroud your own face
would you boil the seas to lethe
clutch guns at the doorway

or would you leave the door open
offer sweet water and maize
to strangers
at your hearth?

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