Duerme mijo – sleep my child, I whisper as I
switch music stations on the I-25 south. I keep
a side-eye on you, chubby you, tired you. My
calloused hand touches your soft-wheat hair as
the radio fills your dreams with the strum of
guitars and the sad baritone voices of the mariachis
singing of lost love, the dove’s tender feathers and
fragile hope. I hear you snore quietly as we pass
through Socorro, then hours of nowhere, now just
one hour left. What will we find when we get to
Las Cruces? Will they think I am not a good father
because of where I’ve been, who I used to be?
I nervously eye the desert dust that the fierce
winds kick up from Trinity and White Sands.
We are passed by fast cars with license plates
from powerful states: Texas, California. You and I
are only just from here, little one. Just here. We
drive in a valley of shadows but I know in my heart
we have nothing to fear. Mijo, the sound of your
soft breath is magic to me. I should stop the car,
hug you to my chest and bless you with a kiss
on the forehead, but we have miles to go to race
the setting sun. Plus they’re waiting for us, those
who will judge if we may stay together.
The mountains are shadows, stark and beautiful.
The sight of them makes me tremble, a deep
reminder you are sacred to me. I will not cry. The
sun shifts from gold to orange in a sky that paints
itself with streaks of pink and turquoise. Even if
we can’t stop I can still whisper I love you into
your sleeping ears. And I can say I love you to the
sky as it deepens into the colors I prize the most,
the colors that look just like your soul; the colors
that speak of miracles and that feed my weary faith
when it falters, and that make me so happy that I
am still alive and here in this ancient, holy place.
Brian Yapko is a lawyer whose poems have appeared in Prometheus Dreaming, Tofu Ink, K’in Literary Journal, Sparks of Calliope, Wingless Dreamer, Gyroscope, Cagibi, Penumbra, the Society of Classical Poets, Grand Little Things, Chained Muse, Abstract Elephant, Poetica and a number of other publications. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his husband, Jerry, and their canine child, Bianca.