Salvador, if I return on a summer day, so humid my thumb
will clean your beard of salt, and if I touch your volcanic face,
kiss your pumice breath, please don’t let cops say: he’s gangster.
Don’t let gangsters say: he’s wrong barrio. Your barrios
stain you with pollen, red liquid pollen. Every day cops
and gangsters pick at you with their metallic beaks,
and presidents, guilty. Dad swears he’ll never return,
Mom wants to see her mom, and in the news:
every day black bags, more and more of us leave. Parents say:
don’t go; you have tattoos. It’s the law; you don’t know
what law means there. ¿But what do they know? We don’t
have greencards. Grandparents say: nothing happens here.
Cousin says: here, it’s worse. Don’t come, you could be ...
Stupid Salvador, you see our black bags,
our empty homes, our fear to say: the war has never stopped,
and still you lie and say: I’m fine, I’m fine,
but if I don’t brush Abuelita’s hair, wash her pots and pans,
I cry. Like tonight, when I wish you made it
easier to love you, Salvador. Make it easier
to never have to risk our lives.