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In the middle of that desert that didn’t look like sand

and sand only,

in the middle of those acacias, whiptails, and coyotes, someone yelled

“¡La Migra!” and everyone ran.

In that dried creek where 40 of us slept, we turned to each other

and you flew from my side in the dirt.

Black-throated sparrows and dawn

hitting the tops of mesquites,

beautifully. Against the herd of legs,

you sprinted back toward me,

I jumped on your shoulders,

and we ran from the white trucks. It was then the gun

ready to press its index.

I said, “freeze, Chino, ¡pará por favor!”

So I wouldn’t touch their legs that kicked you,

you pushed me under your chest,

and I’ve never thanked you.

Beautiful Chino — 

the only name I know to call you by — 

farewell your tattooed chest:

the M, the S, the 13. Farewell

the phone number you gave me

when you went east to Virginia,

and I went west to San Francisco.

You called twice a month,

then your cousin said the gang you ran from

in San Salvador

found you in Alexandria. Farewell

your brown arms that shielded me then,

that shield me now, from La Migra.

By Javier Zamora

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