By Mariana Llanos
November ninth, two thousand sixteen—
deception slowly, painfully sinking in.
I open my white French blinds; I look around
the cul-de-sac, the well-kept middle class
homes bounding mine.
I imagine neighbors still sleeping in,
not caring, not concerned what would be next
for some of us.
I wonder if all those times we spoke—
me, in my dark skin and thick accent,
them, in their whiter than pearls whiteness—
they thought this is where I belonged
or if they saw me as a foreigner,
“Paranoid, paranoid,” I tell myself.
No. I refuse to think the worst of people,
even in a one hundred percent red state.
My children run in, worried faces;
they can’t believe what happened the night before.
Fear blasts like fire from their eyes.
“You’ll be fine,” I say. “You’re citizens, you’ll be fine.”
“What about you?” asks the oldest.
I sigh. I don’t know the answer, but I tell him,
“I’ll be fine, too.”
When I’m alone,
tears flow, like a child’s, without control.
Confusion plunges deep in my brain.
Fear aches in my stomach. It is hard to breathe.
“I’ll be fine,” I say wiping my tears,
picking myself up from the floor,
like I’ve done so many times before.
But I can’t help thinking about the guy—
the guy in the business suit, years ago,
when I was a waitress at a fancy restaurant—
the guy who walked by my side and whispered,
“Go back to Mexico.”
No one heard, while I stood frozen.
I thought of this guy, and knew
that today, he had won.
Mariana Llanos is a Peruvian-born writer and poet. She has published eight children’s books. Her new work, Luca’s Bridge, is the story of a family who is deported to Mexico; it will be published in the Spring of 2018 by Penny Candy Books. Mariana studied Drama in her native Peru. She lives in Oklahoma with her three children and her husband. Find out more at www.marianallanos.com.
Also by Mariana Llanos: “Resiste / Resist,” a poem and translation.
Photo credit: Peter Stevens via a Creative Commons license.