immigration, living

70,000

70,000

by Carmen H Gray

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(art by children, ages 10 and 11, while staying at a respite center run by the Catholic church in McAllen, Texas)

70,000 is a neat number

Rounded up for sixty-nine thousand and something beyond fifty

Easily divisible by two

Until you keep dividing in half

Eventually you reach fractions of a whole

Those shards of whole parts

Are not just numbers

They are fractured pieces of a person’s soul

Disturbances in family fault lines

That refuse to lay dormant

You can see it in the drawings of the children

Who are crying, ¿Dónde está mi mamá?”

And in the exanimated eyes

That can no longer produce tears

Those quashed emotions inhabit

An exponential fallout

From this tidy number

living

Fire and Roses

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*Art by Pierce Gray

Fire and Roses

by Carmen Gray

God is a Woman

-Why?

Because women give birth to life

-Goodnight, my child

I love you

-I love you more

Why is it taking so long to get there?

-I made a wrong turn

It’s okay, even mommies make mistakes

-It doesn’t matter if you win the competition

I don’t want to beat him. He’s my friend

-I love you

I love you more

-Is everything okay?

Time goes so fast, I want it to slow down

-Everything will be alright. We’ll get through it

It hurts. Fuck this life

-It does. I’m sorry

Sometimes I don’t want to wake up

-Sometimes I don’t, either

I’m so mad at you. I hate you

-I’m so mad at you, too.

I’m not going to finish school for anyone else

-Don’t do it for me. Do it for yourself

I will

-Is that a tattoo?

I want to be a tattoo artist

-Put one on me

I want to head West

-I bought you a ticket

I’m scared

-Keep going. I believe in you

I love you

-I love you more

I got a job here!

-I knew you would

I’m sorry if I said mean things to you before

-I’m sorry if I didn’t do everything right

Mom? You’re the gardener, tell me which is best?

-So glad you called me! I like the Ladybug fertilizer

Did you know the female plant is the one with the power? Makes sense, right?

-Yeah, it does

I love you

-I love you more

 

 

 

nature

beautiful

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“Not knowing when the Dawn will come,
I open every Door”-Emily Dickinson

beautiful

by Carmen H Gray

Have I ever told you

That your curls are currents of cordial light?

Or that your eyes are the stars themselves captured

From an abundantly dark sky night?

Your smile has sent a comforting diversion

To many a friend in need

The sweetest bow shaped lips give way

To processions to yet proceed

And still, the greatest allure lies

Beyond these fair favors

Gifted to you by heaven itself

Beautiful you, creations and creators

 

 

letting go

Boxes

Boxes

by Carmen H Gray

I sifted through old things in boxes today

A positive pregnancy test

A dress she wore when she was 6

Her port from the chemotherapy

Letters upon letters: “you will kick cancer’s ass”

“This sea glass reflects a light in you”

“Can I please have a bunny, mom? I want a goddamn bunny! I promise I’ll take care of it”

All things that came to pass after all

Her gratitude in the midst of hell

The list of reasons why her nurses and doctors were the kindest souls she ever knew

Wigs she wore maybe once, yet tenderly kept

Hot tears welled for all of the times I held them in

They must have been compartmentalized

Just like those things

Folded neatly to be stored and perused again

When time and good health bestowed

A moment to remember those symbolic totems

On a rainy Sunday in May

Years later

Isn’t it funny how full and empty

A cycle moves the memories

Of the brevity captured

In boxes