My grandmother crossed, thrice.
For a better life for her family.
And when she got here, she worked her butt off, and continues to do so without any sign of slowing down.
This one’s for Abeulita.
she throws piles of unfolded clothes into a duffel bag, dress skirts with pajama sweaters, bras and girdles swallowed under seas of mismatched pantyhose and shoes.
tap water leaks out of brittle plastic bottles, peaking out of her knapsack with food for barely a week, tamales wrapped in banana leaves, stale pandebonos, guava squares, whatever she could find.
her fingers count the stack of pesos one last time, her life-time earnings in one hand, her instructions in the other.
the pictures she leaves for last, her son and daughter in Sunday colors, her abuela’s toothless grin, the house they made their life in, their weight the heaviest on her shoulders.
she does not know if the sand will engulf her, or la Migra will ask questions with bullets,
no guarantee that the land of opportunity will not have a ‘No Vacancy’ sign at the border.
she does this, not knowing when she’ll see her son again.
i have to cross for him, she speaks the mantra in her head, as tears embark on familiar paths down her cheek.
i have to live