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DesertWords

Asylum

At first light they fade into the desert floor.
A shallow wash, strewn with empty plastic
water bottles, marks the barren spot
as a momentary haven on the way to
Uncertainty.
One small shoe, partially buried in the
Sonoran sand, faded pink, is all the
memory that remains of the six-year-old
whose long black hair was braided into
pigtails, whose clear brown eyes held
definite traces of terror.
The family, seven in all, travel silently
during dark hours, hushed, crouched
low.  Helicopters roam, flashing
search lights on saguaros, kicking
up sand in low passes.  Vehicle 
headlights, rattlesnakes,
fist-size scorpions, brutal robbers --
chances of making it to their
destination are slim.  They know it,
but asylum, safety from murderous
gangs, consuming corruption and
devastating poverty pushed them
forward toward a hope just five
miles ahead.
Tornillo.  A gateway to possibility.  America,
the holy harbor for the helpless.  The
guiding lamp is raised beside
the golden door.
But the desert travelers have not read
the headlines, heard the rhetoric.
They have lived on hope and little else
as they journeyed across an unwelcoming,
hostile sea of sand.  They are soon to
discover that planted in the sand beside
the tarnished golden door is a sign:
\"No hay vacantes -- no eres bienvenido.\"

The lamp has gone out.
Beyond the golden door
the land is dark.