Tuesday Poem

Excerpts from “Cajas/Boxes with Zero Tolerance”


In 1930, my tatarabuela still spoke Rarámuri.
Detribalized now as we’ve been from Turtle Island,
south and north of the río grande, west and east
it’s no surprise that we’re still writing about
our identities, brown women regarded
as brown women, they’d say equally as if
a consolation for any. What does it mean

to be Mexican living in Tejas,
singing in English? I blend in. U.S.
citizenship privilege—check. Education—check.
Job security, check. Chingona propensity, check.

Trauma half-lives (half-līves).
I thought music touches us first
and then the words.

If they built the wall near you,
you’d think music left for rhetoric too.


If they built walls and migrant kennels near you,
you’d think music left for rhetoric too.

Jefferson Che Pop, six, stolen from his papá
Hermelindo, in El Paso, a day after crossing.

Weeks later, by phone, in Mayan Q’eqchi
Papá, I thought they killed you. You separated from me.
Where are you? You don’t love me anymore?

How can I sing a song in this English
when this country urges many to sign
this and that form in this English?

Have it all end with a form in English?

Why would any parent crossing countries
seeking asylum agree, deport me, childless?

Emmy Pérez

from Split This Rock