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Death in the Arizona Desert, A Poem

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.

In memory of Allan

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.

 Silence settles,

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.


Vivienne Keely

19 April 2015



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  1. Charoncé: My favourite classes are the choreographic ones like Pole Choreo and Chair Dance
    since I enjoy losing myself in the music and the art
    of dance.

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