by Jeeni Criscenzo
When his red t-shirt fades,
in the desert sun,
to blend into this sea of beige tents,
and scorching concrete,
will he remember the red of the Dahlias
his mother once kept in a jar on the table?
Will he remember the sweet scent of his mother’s neck
when she hugged him last?
Will he remember the soft slipping of a song from her lips,
when she last lulled him to sleep?
How long before he forgets the endearing name she called him,
that ended with –ito,
because he would always be her little one?
He is so young,
he could forget her.
Forget what it felt like to be loved beyond all reason,
to be loved enough to risk everything for him.
Forget the days he endured this sea of beige.
He is so young.
This colorless canvas
could erase his memories.
That is how he will survive the unbearable loss.
His tears will be the bleach
that fades the vibrant colors of a childhood,
someone else will replace his memories,
with a different song,
a different fragrance,
a different language,
a different culture.
will rise up in his dreams,
always an ache in his anger,
hidden, forgotten, suppressed
The colors of his memories,
of the red flowers,
the green mountains,
the yellow tortillas toasting on the comal,
will all fade in this colorless desert.
They will wipe his slate clean.
But his Mama,
They will never forget.
They will hear his cries
long after every tear has been wrung from him.
When he was torn from them,
it seared a red-hot festering scar that will never heal,
in the deepest recesses of their soul.
His memory will bleed into every nightmare,
sucking the color from their lives too.
They will not hate us for our freedom.
They will hate us for our cruelty.