Undocumented

by Rachael Button

Red Tape Slows U.S. Help for Children Fleeing Central America“-The NY Times

It’s hard not to see them as kids:
these skinny-shouldered boys
who shimmy under barb wires
and swim mud-brown rivers.

The paper says these boys
–that they’ve walked by bodies
–that they’re used to blood blooming
on sand streets
–that they’ve fought vultures
for the scraps
in dumpsters taxed by street gangs,
in cities where
even the refuse is not for free,

in cities where
kids learn to brush teeth
from outreach workers in polo shirts,
who carry Crest and sift scalps for lice,

workers who tell reporters
that the kids here stay high:
it helps them forget their hunger–
like a friend.

I left because gangs kidnapped mom and used
her for sex–
I left because when we told the police
they said they wouldn’t protect us–
I left because the gangs were going to kill us.

No one makes this journey without a reason.

It’s hard not to see them as kids–
these boys who say they are nineteen and
don’t carry ID–
these boys who pray for safe passage
because there’s no where to go but forward.

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