Poem of the Week: "Into America"

I wrote Into America as an assignment for David Wagoner's grad workshop at UW. The assignment was to write a poem where every line ended with an "r" sound. Going in, I didn't think that the assignment would produce a poem that might end up in my book manuscript, but the only major change I ever made to the poem was to break the lines so that every other line ended with an "r" sound.

Into America


If there is a rumor
of a new hole in a fence,
one that is safer
to pass through,
the families will gather
and wait until
the darkness offers cover.

My father
has told me of a man
who was beaten with a hammer
when he was caught, until his leg cracked,
until his femur
was in pieces. Now, that man's leg
is bolted together.

My mother
knows a girl
who was left to wander
on the frontera,
when her parents were
caught without her. Now,
she is our neighbor.

When it is late,
when there is, maybe, an hour
until daylight, those who have waited,
out of fear
or out of patience,
will have to decide if it is better
to cross, or if it is better, somehow,
to live with desire.