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La Esperanza

It was clear to see we were hungry

the near empty plate I carried with skeletal hands

los niños with hollowed cheeks anticipating their next

bite

 

the waiting and begging for the next meal

coming home to a casa of mud and dirt

the casa filled with the sound of cards shuffling and

chips clattering

the casa where he sat drinking and draining our

esperanza away

the casa where I lay sick begging for an escape

there is a legend of the tierra de la oportunidad, land of opportunity

the land where bellies will be full every night

the land where we’ll have more than just the clothes on our back

the land where we can expand our minds to greater

reaches the land where we have a chance

 

I had no other option

no choice and no voice

no money and no job

what do i do?

 

when I told them I was leaving all they could do is cry

they begged and plead for me not to go

I knew they would understand someday

but the littlest one wouldn’t let me go

wouldn’t let me leave without him

 

I bought the clothes on my back

a small sack of food

a child in my arms

a dream for a better life for my family

three days journey through the harsh desert to the nearest

bus

 

we get to the border on a bus

we wait with many people just like us to get a coyote

we walked through trails and cross the roaring river at

night hiding in the shadows

Now we are here

now I have una esperanza

but that soon changed

 

I needed to bring the six children I left

to keep my promise to them

to do that I needed a job to pay a coyote

to get a job I need papeles to work

It wasn’t an issue if you had papers

but I didn’t have papeles

 

six years of taking care of children that were not my own

saving every penny, nickel, and dime

spending long nights and countless hours working

praying every day until they were finally safe in my arm

six years I lost in time

 

trying not to get caught by la migra

if you can imagine I didn’t know a word english

la lengua of my people was all I knew

it was a big red marca on my back

branding me as an alien from out of this mundo

so I hid in the shadows

the pathway to citizenship was a narrow road

one wrong step and we could be sent back

we paid the fine, we paid our dues

and we waited in the back of the line

if we succeeded we would get the golden ticket

 

Ojalá que the land of opportunity is still true

Ojalá que you take to the streets too

Ojalá que you use your voice to speak for the ones that can’t

Ojalá que you share my story far and wide so others can fight too

Ojalá que in this way you can help too

This is my esperanza.

By Sarah Salinas

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