03 August 2011


The goal was to use the letter C for inspiration (via ABC Wednesday). While listing C words, a migrant's story started to form. I've been reading Sonia Novario's book Enrique's Journey. It details the struggles of a boy from Honduras attempting to reach his mother in North Carolina and what happens after.

I survived Chiapas, the beast.
An unlucky comrade was
cut off from the group.
Border police have corralled him
in confinement with other migrants.

I am crazy to attempt this
journey from central america
crossing Mexico
to the United States.
But, it is the only cure
for missing my mother,
who used to coddle
and cuddle me
when I was cute and small.

I hop on and off moving trains.
Churning wheels threaten to cut off
a foot, a leg, a life.

Men chase me.
I hide in a clump of bushes.
A church!
I burst in and
careen into a corner.
Churches often provide sanctuary.

It's cool in here.
A clergyman appears.
"Breathe easy.
I care for children of the train."
I notice others. 

For dinner, we consume
cucumbers and chimichangas.
I even get a cookie!
We console one other.
We cajole one other.
We cheer up for the safety
of resting in the church.
I cover up for sleep,
and dream of mami.

Thousands of children travel along the tops and sides of freight trains through Mexico. Children as young as seven jump on and off of the moving trains, trying to avoid immigration agents. Some states are generally friendly and the people are helpful to the migrants, like in Veracruz. Chiapas, the southern most state, is notoriously difficult to cross without deportation, and the people despise migrants. These children are typically trying to reach a parent in the US, most often a mother. Single-parent households appear more and more in Central America, and parents who cannot make enough at home leave for the US. They plan to stay 1, 2, or 3 years, but many end up staying for 10 years or more. Children who can barely remember their mother, or have only an idealized version of her, undertake deportation, gangs, rape, physical mutilation, starvation, and dehydration for days and sometimes months hopping trains in order to find mom and love.

Aug 7: Included in Poetry Pantry #61


  1. Jess, thank you for bringing to our eyes the truth about yet another way children are victimized by immigration laws. When we learn that we are all simply people, when we stop worrying about "our piece of the pie" and pass that piece on to someone in true need, then our nation will begin to heal. This was wonderful writing, and I thank you. Amy

  2. This really touched my heart. I have a son, and it would just kill me to picture him in such a plight. As his Mom, I cannot imagine have to leave him, I mean go away like that, when he was a boy. I agree with Amy. It is deplorable the way we treat other humans. We treat them like this, then have the gall to think we are civilized.

    Very good. Thank you for sharing it. I truly hope he finds his mother and that this has happy ending.

  3. Sharp - Obviously the story I read made an impact on me, so I had to share it.

    Kwee - Most moms don't want to leave, but it's seen as the only way to make enough money to feed, clothe, and educate the kids.

    I think it's important to remember when you see somebody that they have a story, too. You never know what that story is, so try to be compassionate.

  4. pls you don't want me to rant about the inhumane immigration policy of the US. good piece.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  5. You got me with this line:
    I care for children of the train.

    It stopped me in my tracks and made me think. Thanks for sharing!

  6. It's hard to imagine all this is going on just several hundred miles south of where I live in Long Beach, CA. I don't know what the answer is but at least help the children if they get across the border.

  7. ROG - thanks for stopping by

    Morning - thank you

    California - I'm glad it got you thinking.

    booguloo - It's a complicated issue, and I don't believe there is one best answer. I do believe it's important to know and to try to be compassionate.

  8. Children have very few advocates in their lives-thank you for being one!