In the middle of that desert that didn’t look like sand
and sand only,
in the middle of those acacias, whiptails, and coyotes, someone yelled
“¡La Migra!” and everyone ran.
In that dried creek where 40 of us slept, we turned to each other
and you flew from my side in the dirt.
Black-throated sparrows and dawn
hitting the tops of mesquites,
beautifully. Against the herd of legs,
you sprinted back toward me,
I jumped on your shoulders,
and we ran from the white trucks. It was then the gun
ready to press its index.
I said, “freeze, Chino, ¡pará por favor!”
So I wouldn’t touch their legs that kicked you,
you pushed me under your chest,
and I’ve never thanked you.
Beautiful Chino —
the only name I know to call you by —
farewell your tattooed chest:
the M, the S, the 13. Farewell
the phone number you gave me
when you went east to Virginia,
and I went west to San Francisco.
You called twice a month,
then your cousin said the gang you ran from
in San Salvador
found you in Alexandria. Farewell
your brown arms that shielded me then,
that shield me now, from La Migra.