Her clicking pen a nervous habit responding to the inventory bagged and tagged from the desert, every wallet and blanket gathered, fields of backpacks abandoned, footprints vanishing over the ridge.
Stacked in the morgues there is no counting ghost bones picked white around the border. She searches for the names trailed off among bleached rocks and cacti: one may be a tía, a tío.
The pain of an invisible line that may have been a few miles back the whole time. In the warehouse the volunteer sweats, clicking for the ones she knows.
In the depths and dips of high desert, in the name of survival and hope, she prays to the patron saint of slim chances.
Juan J. Morales is the son of an Ecuadorian mother and Puerto Rican father. He is the author of three poetry collections, including The Handyman’s Guide to End Times, winner of the 2019 International Latino Book Award. Recent poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, The Laurel Review, Breakbeats Vol. 4 LatiNEXT, Acentos Review,Collateral, Salamander, and Pank, and is forthcoming in Poetry. He is a CantoMundo Fellow, a Macondo Fellow, the editor/publisher of Pilgrimage Press, and professor and department chair of English & World Languages at Colorado State University-Pueblo.