TWO POEMS

SAÚL HERNÁNDEZ

When Dreams Come True

.
I.

The telephone rings at three
in the morning, the receiver shouts
into my mother’s ear: Papá esta muerto!

Her eyes widen, her fingers rattle
with the news, she drops the phone;
her llanto a waking lullaby—

some dreams do come true. She
paces the house running her fingers through
her hair. In the morning, a sixteen hour drive to

Mexico awaits. In the driveway, the truck is parked, ready
for her. The word illegal rolls out
of her siblings mouths and they console

her choice. My uncle turns the key and
her body thrusts out of the back seat.
My mother stares at my brother and I

from outside of the SUV. She tells us to go
in her place. The truck pulls out of the driveway
towards the direction of the country

she left behind at 15. She stays
in the driveway, her hands reach out
for what is impossible for her to

reach.

.

.

.

II.

I play a video at night: families meet in
the middle of the Rio Grande with
their ankles in water, reuniting. In

180 seconds, they grab on to one another, dig
their faces in between necks, fingers that
do not want to let go of one another. A

couple drives 11 hours from a small town in Mexico
to meet their grandchildren for the first time. A
woman says it’s been a decade since she

has seen her family. A girl of 15 says
her mother was deported years ago;
today, they will all meet again. A

man covered in tattoos looks at the camera,
he’s wearing my mother’s eyes, he too must know
the weight of having to carry a hollow space

between his hands; he tells the reporter Isn’t this the
land where dreams come true?
I want to hold him in
my arms, tell him this is the land where

dreams will destroy you. Another man reminds us
this is a Human Rights Campaign, Hugs Not Walls. For
three minutes two countries merge:

Undocumented and Mexico. For seconds
dreams do come true.

.

.

.

III.

My mother looks out the car window, traces the border bridge with her fingers, It’s been twenty-
seven years since I’ve been this close to the border.
She points to an older man with a sombrero,
Mira, he looks like my father. She follows the older man with her glance until he disappears in
the mix of people walking towards the Santa Fe Bridge. My mother’s eyes shift from side to
side, looking for the older man,………………………………….. .she presses her left hand on her
chest, and lets out a sigh. In the car………………………………………….my mother takes the shape of
empty; she’s been this way for twenty…………………………………………..-seven years. In September a
letter from Immigration Services…………………………………. ……said her Green Card has been
approved. Zigzagging up the ………………………………………………….road towards Scenic Drive
she stares out the window, she lifts up ……………………………………….her hand, traces the border
that separates El Paso from Juárez, ……………………………………….the mountains almost hug each
other. At the top of Scenic Drive, we stand in front of both countries. The sun wraps her face,
reveals her void, I can see the toll that twenty-seven years has taken on my mother. I put my
arms around her, she squeezes my body.
Pronto ire para allá, she says extending her arm out
beyond the cerros of Juárez pointing at México—

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………Pronto.

.

.

.

IV.
It’s December and I stand behind my mother
outside the cemetery gate. The sun sits on
the low east and the only sound near us is

wind. With every step we take towards the gate
the heartbeat of my mother pushes her forward, she’s here
in her hometown, in her country. I reach for the handle,

she says she can do it. So she pushes and we walk
in. She reads tombstones searching for what she lost
and familiar names remind her she’s back, she stops

at each one, leaves traces of her weight. She
continues to read names from tombstones and the
cerros watch her separate her hair from the wind.

All that remains in Mexico is this moment. Two graves down
she finds him. She presses her warm palms against the
blue plaque with the name Genaro Ibarra Parra.

She kneels against him, murmurs: aqui estoy, aqui estoy papá.
She keeps glancing at her father’s grave and in her words the weight
of her dreams lifting. She grabs my hand and I

squeeze back. I kneel beside her and we become
two cerros leaning on one another looking down at a body
underground covered by dirt, rocks, and a name—

.

.

.

How to Find the Distance Between Two Points

.
Use the equation:
d=√(x2−x1)^2 + (y2−y1)^2

to solve for what my undocumented
father and mother couldn’t touch
for twenty-eight years.

The points are:
San Antonio, TX, USA (29.42, 98.49)
San Luis Potosi, SLP, MX (22.15, 100.95)

Then, multiply the answer by ∞
to solve for the distance
they carry.

SAÚL HERNÁNDEZ is a queer writer from San Antonio, TX. He was raised by undocumented parents and as a Jehovah Witness. Saúl has a MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Texas at El Paso. He’s a finalist for the 2019 Submerging Writer Fellowship, Fear No Lit; a semi-finalists for the 2018 Francine Ringold Award for New Writers, Nimrod Literary Journal. His work is forthcoming/featured in Pidgeonholes,The Acentos Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Normal School, Rio Grande Review, and Adelaid Literary Magazine. He’s also part of the Macondo Writers Workshop.