For the past several summers I have spent time on the Arizona/Mexico border, working with an organization that provides medical and material aid to migrants crossing through a remote and dangerous stretch of the Sonoran Desert. Over 6000 human remains have been found in this region over the past ten years, and likely many more people have perished attempting to cross the desert. The area is highly militarized, and we often encountered caches of life-saving water and food we previously set out along migrant trails, that had been vandalized by militia or Border Patrol agents. Working in this harsh setting, one becomes simultaneously aware of the vast degree of human suffering along the southern U.S. border, and of the many specific acts of unbelievable cruelty. As I started in on writing this poem, I realized that I was zooming a lens in from the broad sweep of desert landscape, which is ruggedly beautiful, to one singular violent moment intended to deprive human beings of a basic life essential, being played out on an almost microscopic level.
Image: “Ants “ by sirhchris, licensed under CC 2.0
Robbie Gamble holds an MFA in poetry from Lesley University. His poems are out or forthcoming in Scoundrel Time, MassPoetry, Writers Resist, Solstice, Poet Lore, and RHINO. He was the winner of the 2017 Carve Poetry prize. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, and works as a nurse practitioner caring for homeless people in Boston.