They said I couldn’t leave Mexico—
the border was closed—
and I’d love to stay in Akumal,
to swim and watch the turtles eating sea grass,
eat fresh grouper with my toes in the sand,
drink margaritas in shallow pools,
but I’m on probation and I must return,
and I need to take care of the cats.
I left their food open in the basement,
and now they wander with greasy fur in the dark,
look for me, grow fat, hunt the mice
that live in my white walls.
But they say they want me to stay.
I’ve extorted enough money to pay for this stucco room,
with Mexican blankets patterned like Zapotec villages
and towels shaped like swans
balancing pieces of chocolate on their wings.
I buy their drugs,
their dusty streets,
their skinny yellow dogs,
I teach them about capital gains and technology.
I buy them all cell phones.
So they won’t let me leave.
The cats are eating kibble of oil and discarded pig bits.
My favorite is the gray one,
pattern on his back like the grid of a city,
but it’s the black cat I worry about,
the one who slept with me
curled against my neck.
She doesn’t like to be alone.
The gulf right now is a deep aqua
as the sun slides towards it,
and the border is as porous as cheese cloth.
At home they are sorting clothes in the back of Goodwill,
where you can only work in the front if you speak English,
and they are picking giant strawberries
with genes spliced with pesticides and beetles,
and I’m returning,
walking through barbed wire
that tears my jeans and wounds my legs,
returning to feed my cats fresh meat on the deck
in my desert that drinks the Colorado River
like a suckling babe,
smelling like petrichor,
the desert that carries children into silver cities
where it is never dark,
even when we close our eyes.