Let Me Try Again

By Javier Zamora

I could bore you with the sunset, the way water tasted
after so many days without it,
the trees,
the breed of dogs, but I can’t say
there were forty people
when we found the ranch with the thin white man,
his dogs,
and his shotgun.

Until this 5 a.m. I couldn’t remember
there were only five,
or seven people—

We’d separated by the paloverdes.
We, meaning:
four people. Not forty.
The rest. . .
I don’t know.
They weren’t there
when the thin white man
let us drink from a hose
while pointing his shotgun.
In pocho Spanish he told us
si correr perros atacar.
If run dogs trained attack.

When La Migra arrived, an officer
who probably called himself Hispanic at best,

not Mejicano like we called him, said
buenas noches
and gave us pan dulce y chocolate.

Procedure says he should’ve taken us
back to the station,

checked our fingerprints,

He must’ve remembered his family
over the border,

or the border coming over them,
because he drove us to the border

and told us
next time, rest at least five days,

don’t trust anyone calling themselves coyotes,
bring more tortillas, sardines, Alhambra.

He knew we would try again
and again,
like everyone does.

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