Paso Del Norte 1992
(after "Coming Home"
by Philip Levine)
A summer Monday, colonias spew smoke,
stacks of black tires afire again.
Asarco smokestacks smelt copper to black slag, slick
hillsides pouring fires stick out their tongues.
Clean clothes are hard to come by,
pants wet to the waist in the dirty river.
Dark under the bridge
you pass above, numb to thoughts of why,
numb to memories of a dirt devil that trapped
the cholo, the Virgin Mary, and the ragpicker
inside cinder block houses. Plastic tatters
swirl through smoggy streets, drought and heat,
relentless wind. Over the tracks in a brown cloud
the worn-out coals are ridden away. A ragged mother
and her wilted child don't bother to look at you.
You inch forward in traffic, backward in time,
to go buy baskets and cheap cigarettes. The humid faces,
soot-black eyes, vacant stomachs, and silence,
dry dust scorching your throat, exhaust
plugging your head, the river straightened
by concrete to fix the changing border
in time, stitched to the hurricane fence—
but this river boils and never floods.
Robin Scofield is the author of And the Ass Saw the Angel as well as the forthcoming Sunflower Cantos from Mouthfeel Press. Her poems appear in The 2River View, The Warwick Review, and The Mas Tequila Review. She has also been published in The Paris Review and The Texas Observer. She is a contributing poetry editor at BorderSenses and writes with the Tumblewords Project in El Paso, Texas.