Dear Citizen

In your name, men on horseback in uniforms and Stetsons are snapping
reins like whips, steering steeds along the banks of the Rio Grande,
in pursuit of those who approach the shore carrying shoes, clothes,
bags of food, babies above their heads, away from the force of currents
running through this river that once flowed freely but now struggles
to reach its destination, pilgrims/ migrants/refugees/human beings with names
and stories who journeyed far through jungle, cities, countries, paid everything
to reach this land of promise and merciless borders. Citizen, do you think a god
would scar the earth with such ugly marks that must be traversed to arrive
at a place of peace and human kindness only to be met by these men who drive
them back? Citizen, is this what you want?

Do you believe the politician’s anger roiling beneath calm words, promises
of investigation and consequence, proclamations this is not who we are?
But, Citizen you must know this is precisely who we are, children have been taken,
families broken, innocents detained, blind eyes turned, bodies strewn across our deserts,
floating in the waters of the world, the men on horseback allowed, this latest cruelty
shadowed by old cruelties, lingering cruelties shielded by words, justifications,
policies that built the world, our identities, their identities, the us, the them, the we.
Citizen, this word that contains you has become tainted, stained, can no longer hold.


Roxanne Doty

(Prompted by photos in the New York Times, Sept. 21, 2021 of U.S. Border Patrol’s treatment of Haitian migrants.)

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One Response to Dear Citizen

    1. Excellent piece Roxanne. Those “settlers” who started with genocide have offspring who now “protect” their land, which was stolen in the first place. The image you use could be 150 years old.

      Comment by Tom on 31 January, 2022 at 1:58 pm

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