Wrecked bird feeder w/abandoned house
America was building prison camps. “The people in this country have no heart,” the young brown-skinned mother wept as the blackshirts finally released her daughter. Reunited but not safe, they both faced deportation back to violence and death unless they joined the thousands in the desert or in wire cages inside concrete caves, where the lights were on all night and frightened children weren’t allowed a hug, not even by their parents. It was like being kidnapped by the very gangs they’d fled.
Imagine, if you can, being beaten and raped on your way home one day. Bloody and sobbing, you stagger to the doorway of a stranger’s house. But instead of taking care of you, the occupants arrest you and lock you up. You don’t even speak their language. You have no idea why you’re handcuffed or how long you’ll be there. If you have a child or spouse, they may be taken from you and you won’t know where they are…
When I was fourteen years ago in Texas, I fell asleep delivering papers early in the morning and crashed into another car at the curb. My face was cut and bleeding. There was blood all over. I got out, walked up to the closest house, and pounded on the door. “Help!” I yelled, completely out of it and raving. The porch light soon came on. A woman in her nightgown stuck her head outside and screamed. “Please call the police,” I said, “and call my father, too.” (My worst shame was, I’d wrecked the car—a ’58 VW—and the old man would be mad. He wasn’t, though.) I might have given her the number. I guess she called him or the cops did, but either way, I ended up at the base hospital where an Air Force doctor stitched my eyelid back together and sent me home. I missed a couple days of school and wore a bandage on my eye for days.
No one refused to help me. No one locked me up.
I’m old now and I’ve seen a lot. We live in a wreck of an old adobe on a dirt road in a neighborhood where young brown children waiting for the school bus look just like the others at the border. They wear the cleanest clothes and no one’s scared or crying. Every day I read about the goddamned fascists treating refugees like vermin and I lose it. In my country, my America. If these people showed up at my door, I’d give them food and water, let them use the bathroom, call an agency or church to help them, drive them to their relatives, anything I could. I’d be proud and grateful if my government would handle this, but I would do it anyway because the pain is killing me.
On this very different Fourth of July, I feel only anger at the lies and cruelty that know no bounds.
We may be better than this.
I honestly don’t know.
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