This poem commemorates the many hundreds of men, women and children who have died while crossing the Arizona desert on their way to the United States. An artist living in Tuscon had the idea of making and planting a cross at the spot where a person is known to have died. The site is plotted on GPS by another volunteer using data from the Medical Examiner’s Office. A group of people from Tuscon, Bisbee and Douglas made the pilgrimage to the site Saturday 18 April 2015 and planted the cross.
Sandy scrub, sapphire sky, surprise of wild flowers
Through mountains unyielding, passes deceiving,
We wonder whence he came.
Scrabbling on loose stones, under barbed wire,
Eighteen press on,
GPS coordinates, our guide.
Walking the desert trail with us, the artist – crossmaker, migrant too –
inspired by fragments of human passage,
discarded cans, broken compass, beads of rosaries.
We, the crossbearers,
Weight on our shoulders
Sharing the heaviness of his dying self.
Alone or not, his hope washed out,
His young life eeked out,
On this spot encircling his memory.
The hole dug, the cross placed,
No word escapes.
A white butterfly flutters grace, maybe
Holding the memory of Allan
We stand with his sisters and brothers
Dead in the Arizona desert.
In this now sacred place, in memory, we hope.
19 April 2015