Volume 1 Issue 36: Oh, the horror.

Inside the Caravan at the Mexican-American Border

–with thanks to photojournalist Alice Driver

Karen Petersen

When you carry all that you love with you
you do not feel the melting sun
or the scourging wind
or the sand that finds even the smallest spot
to place its hurt, often in an agonizing fashion.
Good people will hand you water and slices of apple
but you will wonder how much longer you can last.

When you carry all that you love with you
and your little sister’s heart beats against your chest,
you hold her tenderly, mi pequeño corazón,
with hands that are still warm from the heat of the desert
as your fellow travelers play cards to pass the time,
their bug bites and bruises small road maps telling tales
of their life on the caravan.

When you carry all that you love with you
as you stare down into a flat, grey puddle of water
you want to know if your face shows the life your body has lived
–if it betrays all the horrors that you have experienced.
And when you are given plastic flip flops with little white dots on them,
you hope they will fit and last until wherever the end is
as you look at your blistered feet, brown ‘like burnt bread.’

And when you carry all that you love with you,
the miles no longer matter, those many hundreds of miles,
as you arrive hidden in a truck, sitting in a taxi, on a local bus,
your aching body but a shadow now through the windows.
For your arrival will always be at night, as a kind of secret,
and you will pick out a blue hat and a warm-looking coat,
from a large pile near the darkened church, and you will put them on.

Then the sun will come up, that burning sun,
invading your eyes weary from lack of sleep,
and you will begin to walk again,
past the jagged mountains and endless farms,
walking towards those distant horizons of promise,
where at last you will be ready to surrender,
surrender to your fate, and hope that it is good.


Karen Petersen has traveled the world extensively, publishing both nationally and internationally in a variety of publications. Most recently, she was published in The Manzano Mountain Review in the USA, The Bosphorus Review in Istanbul, Antiphon in the UK and A New Ulster in Northern Ireland. New work will be appearing later this year in the Saranac Review in the USA and Idiom 23 in Australia.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

4 thoughts on “Volume 1 Issue 36: Oh, the horror.

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: