By Dianne Olsen

Her name is the color of bright yellow sunflowers,
the scent of dusky sage.
Her intense black hair
absorbs the sun.
She stands close, her hand clutching mine,
Flora, my mother, my friend,
my accompaniment to life.
I am a bubble of laughter
from her lips
a note of joy tossed in the air one early morning.
I am a fish swimming
in her holy sea,
a bead on a string that has
no end.
She keeps one chamber in her heart
open just for me.

Today we stand on the Avenida de Colores,
across from the immigration courthouse.
We have walked a long way in the New Mexico sun.
We wait while our breathing settles.
Inside the court, a judge will decide whether we go or stay.
He will say what the law means,
but he cannot see
inside our hearts, our bones.
The judge has not heard our songs.

A thousand years ago,
mothers like mine knew this land.
The cactus flowers remember
our grandmothers.
The sand crystals
and the red rocks
keep our brothers’ secrets.

Our fathers spoke in a music that makes
our bones strong,
songs unknown on Highway 65.
Today we may be forbidden to
call this desert home.

In the courthouse,
the immigration judge will ask us
why we deserve to live here.

I hold tight to my mother’s hand.
She and I wear the sun-stained faces of
this desert.
Our songs, our names,
the dry gardens we created,
our brothers, fathers,
the very scent of the red stones:
These things we will tell him.
These things make this our home.


Dianne Olsen is a garden consultant and a freelance writer and poet living in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. She wrote “The Valley Gardener” column for the Poughkeepsie Journal for almost four years in the early 2000s. She recently retired from a 15-year career as environment and horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Putnam County, NY.

Photo credit: Scrubhiker via a Creative Commons license.

By | 2017-08-01T17:16:14+00:00 August 3rd, 2017|Categories: Issue 34: 03 Aug 2017|Tags: , |Comments Off on Judgment