page contents

Carla Chacon

© Tomas Castelazo, / Wikimedia Commons

© Tomas Castelazo, / Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps he meant it. Perhaps he is a poor speaker. Or perhaps the media took it out of context. Whichever the reason, we all heard it. Some heard it through the television. Some through internet articles. Others through word of mouth. As we watched, as we read, as we listened, we could hardly believe it. Surely he will be escorted the room for uttering such remarks. But we watched, we listened, as the crowd-our neighbors-cheered him along as he stood steadily at his podium. Whether taken out of context, or not, it doesn’t matter, for the remarks exist; we wear their false label. 

Man, woman, child. We are not sent, we come. Some are brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, but all are poor. Just like the founders of this nation, we come, holding on to a promise. Un día, we say. One day we will have a better life, or at least die trying. Some leave their families. We kiss our wives, our husbands, and disguise our fear with dry eyes and crooked smiles. We hug our children tightly, we memorize the scent and outline of their little bodies, feel their eyes leak onto our shirts, and we hold on as if to hear the universe ticking, taunting. We hold on as if this were our last embrace. And for some, it is, but we do not know. Some leave nothing behind, nothing to hold, nothing to lose. 

Our shoes are stained from the dirt from the sands of Manzanillo, the deserts of Monterrey, the mud from el Río Moctezuma, and the ancient ashes of Popocatépetl. We carry with us backpacks filled with bundles of raged clothing, birth certificates, and passports. Some only carry the clothes on our backs and a tin crucifix tied to our necks. We head to our destinations. Some to airports. Some to the desert. Some to the river. We go alone. We go in groups. We go to the spot where we are to meet elcoyote. We pay him for the passage: one thousand dollars per head. 

If he is fair, he will cross us. If not, he will call to his gun bearing men. They point to our heads and run away; that is if we are lucky. If not, he will load all sixteen of us in the cargo of his white truck and drive us for miles into the desert. He will drive until the sun is at its fiercest and step on the brakes. The force knocks our heads against the steel. We will hear chains beating against the door and a lock seal. We are trapped inside, pleading to the abandoned wild. We are left to bake. 

Some of us do get the fair crosser.Prey to your God, he laughs, because this is the point of no return.We ration the water, but we know it will not last. Some can’t keep up and are left to die on the desert floor. We say a silent prayer, but move one. At night we suffer the bitter cold, clenching our fists, grinding our teeth. We run. The sound of the patrol trucks alarm our brains, sending us scattering like a covey of quail, feeling threatened with anything that moves out of the shadows of the unknown. Some are captured and thrown back. Some of us get away, hiding in bushes, digging holes in the dirt and waiting for night to fall. We make it across: California, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada. 

With the little money we stored in our socks, we pay for a motel room for one night. We call our relatives to pick us up, if we have them. Some of us are not that lucky. We are alone. We wander in the streets, hiding. Jobs are not calling our names. They won’t take us despite our experience and potential. Hunger and fear cradle our souls, making us submit to the deadly sins that assure to silence the pain. 

Some of us return home. Spirits crushed, faces shamed, eyes shamed. Some of us find jobs in agriculture: lettuce, grapes, strawberries, watermelons, tangerines. We are housekeepers, nannies, construction workers, gardeners. We pay our rents, bills, taxes, and what is left over we send to our homes. We send to our father, mothers, daughters, sons, wives and husbands. Some of us marry. We marry American men and women. We marry our own. Then the children come; the first generation. We become students, teachers, doctors, lawyers. We listen to the news, each campaign, more promises. We believe and support. Nothing happens, but Un día, one day we promise ourselves. 

They’re not sending us their best. We watched, we heard, we read. Some of us steal, sell drugs, rape, and kill, but just like the founders of this nation. Some is not all. We are moral, we are not. We tell our kids about the dangerous effects of drugs. We cry when young men shoot innocent children at elementary schools. We bow our heads with our neighbors at church. We are moral, we are beast. We are human.

Carla Chacon is currently working toward a degree in English at California State University, Bakersfield. She hopes to become a high school teacher someday to help students find their unique writing styles. When she's not hitting the books, she enjoys practicing the ukulele and, sometimes, you may catch her singing along to musical soundtracks or Barry Manilow.