Lynne Bigley

Rancho Milagro

Rosa and her big sister
arrived late spring
in their mother’s dented
78 Oldsmobile Deluxe.
"Vayan a jugar."

They ran to the playground
under the large oaks,
slid down dusty slides, twirled
each other in swings.

Their mother left to cross
the border while they were dizzy
in play. She didn’t say goodbye
or tell them why she left
them alone under the trees.
She didn’t tell them Coyotes
lose children in the scrub
and nettle of the war zone.

They stopped twirling late afternoon,
sat down on the slide, and waited.
Mother sometimes made them wait.
Wait in the car. Wait in the house.
She always came back.

A dark haired lady led
them to the girls’ dormitory.
Rosa asked, "¿Dónde está mi madre?"
The lady didn’t answer.
Rosa stopped speaking.

The canopy of leaves over the playground
turned brown. Chores were assigned, meals
served. Menudo and fresh tortillas
on Saturday. They wore starch white shirts
and blue skirts to school. Volunteers
from California would come to repair
roofs and paint walls. They would say,
"¿Cómo te llamas?" Rosa never answered.

After chores and school work,
Rosa would sit alone by the river
and make bird sounds. Songs sent
north with the geese overhead.


The Orange Clock

When you find yourself
alone at Groom Lake
before the Orange Clock,
Notice how the sage hen
cowers in your presence;
Notice how the blue lizard
trembles at your human smell.
You have been there before,
and are there now, standing,
radiated hands click-ticking.
They know you built the machine.

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