We think of rivers as peaceful flow, yet they become borders
when geography and politics find unnatural agreements;
south the watermark is poverty, riches for the plundering.
This man muscles the boat tow along the rippling Suchiate,
south of Mexico, international travelling on strung planks
inflatable devices envisioned out of creative need.
Women, men and children cross the river
as do dogs, bundles, guns, drugs, fruit,
vegetables, drinkable water in plastic bags.
An open song throated by the waterman
as he wades tugging a family on board
muscles blown from the effort;
beans, rice and tortillas fill his stomach
as do hunger dreams.
Daily he moves his thighs through water, tugging
at his heart that lurches at every step, at every pull.
His feet find the stones, the water finds his arms.
Today not many want to cross when danger slithers
serpent fears into the river’s murky waters.
This poem first appeared in the book Écfrasis, published by the Tijuana Cultural Center.
Claire Joysmith is a poet, writer, translator, and former academic, now retired, fascinated by poetry and ekphrasic poetry; she has previously published, together with visual artist José Díaz, the volume Écfrasis, published by the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT), Mexico. She was born in Mexico City, currently lives in the Yucatán, and has worked for many years on border-related issues, specifically the Mexico-U.S. border as well as the less visible Mexico-Guatemala border (the Suchiate River). She has published poetry throughout the Americas, in both English and Spanish, as well as three poetry books: Silencio de azules and Bacalar: Esbozos de agua y tinta (both forthcoming in English translation), and Écfrasis (partially bilingual).
The Ekphrastic Review
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