Let Me Try Again

Javier Zamora

I could bore you with the sunset, the way
water tasted after so many days without it,

the trees, the breed of dogs, but I can’t
say there were forty people when we found

the ranch with the thin white man, his dogs,
and his shotgun. Until this 5 a.m., I hadn’t

or couldn’t remember there were only five,
or seven, people—

not forty. We’d separated by the palo verdes.
We meaning: an eighteen-year-old ex-gangster,

a mom with her thirteen-year-old, and me.
Four people. Not forty. The rest . . . the rest,

I don’t know. They weren’t there when
the thin white man let us drink from a hose

while pointing his shotgun. In Spanish
he told us if run away, dogs trained attack.

Water must’ve felt like water, and my throat
like a throat after days without liquids,

and the dogs, maybe they could’ve killed us,
who knows, who cares, the farmer

is probably dead, a few more years in him,
but can’t believe he’s lasted these seventeen.

When La Migra truck arrived, an officer
who probably called himself Arizonan,

Hispanic at best, not Mejicano
like we called him, said buenas noches

and gave us pan dulce y chocolate.
Procedure says he should’ve taken us

back to the station, checked our fingerprints,
etcetera. He knew we weren’t Mexican.

He must’ve remembered his family
coming over the border, or the border

coming over them, because he drove us
to the border and told us next time, rest

at least five days, don’t trust anyone calling
themselves coyotes, bring more tortillas, sardines,

Alhambra. He knew we would try again.
And again—like everyone does.

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