Crossing into El Norte

The border to the north is crowded tonight,
lines of cars in steaming rows, all of them waiting
to cross into the other world. 
                You can see San Diego from here—
its skyscrapers catch the last of the light
like a handful of glitter thrown into the air.
A magic trick.  On the road through Tijuana,
clusters of figures crouched by the pock-marked
metal wall, peering through to that green
expanse of desire. At dark these sons
and daughters will hurl themselves over

fifteen foot fences topped with razor-wire, scramble
under floodlights, the Border Patrol’s blinding eye.
It’s not yet night: over the wall, on a rise, you can see
a green-striped Bronco, empty and shining an unnatural
white. Soon it will trawl the dirt-carved road
through to another dawn, while you are wrapped
in your bed’s warm oblivion.  You came to Rosarito
because it was easy and cheap: tacos de marisco
 from a roadside standA clay-tiled pool
with a view of the ocean, the distant humps of whales
passing.  And sun, enough to toast your skin
the color of forgetting.  All this

for what it would cost to pay a coyote
to yell a woman on across the dirt, and if she falls,
say, breaks a leg, he will keep her money
and leave her there, weeping in tangled brush.
        Twilight. You pass under the high cement wall
with looming black letters: U.S. Department of Immigration
and Naturalization. La Migra. The square-jawed guard 
asks your country of origin, asks what’s in the cooler, smiles
while around you are bodies curled breathless
in trunks, rocketing hearts in the back of a van. 
He waves you on.  Press the gas.  The new white gleam
of your rental car glides out over the pavement, into a clean
and swallowing darkness, a darkness you know.

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