you can count on it:
by Alexandra Lytton Regalado
For the more than 60,000 children from Central America who cross the border unaccompanied.
With lines from Maya Angelou and Richard Wilbur
Arcing above our apartment building,
above the rousing city and green skirts
of the San Salvador volcano, a flock
of wild parakeets comes to roost
outside our window; my nine-month son
rests his head on my chest and all I want
is to draw the curtains, but he’s coughed
all night and now his breathing
is slow, near sleep, though his eyes snap open
with each squawk. I imagine the parakeets
preening their emerald feathers, joyful in their ceremony
of clacks and trills. They are not musing
the capriciousness of nature as I am; they don’t know
five thirty am, only that the sun has tinged
the mountainsides gold and that this alcove echoes
their welcome beautifully. The wild parakeets tap
at the windowpane and my son stirs,
raises his sleep-etched face to mine.
Together we slip past the curtain and discover
seven green parakeets, perhaps a little smaller,
their feathers scruffier than I had envisioned.
Two squabble over a prime niche and the stronger
one comes towards the glass, wings unfurled,
fat tongue thrusting from his open beak. I want
to unlatch the window and sprinkle seed, lure them
to perch on our shoulders and arms, anything
to make them stay longer. Instead, my son, rooted in
the things unknown but longed for still—
greets them with the slap of an open palm to the windowpane,
and in a clapping of wings
they leap from the narrow corridor at once, a raucus fleeing,
with headlong and unanimous consent,
a disappearing stain, a distant murmuration
swallowed from sight.
Alexandra Lytton Regalado’s poems and short stories have appeared in Gulf Coast, Narrative, Notre Dame Review, OCHO, Puerto del Sol and elsewhere. She is the winner of the St. Lawrence Book Prize and the Coniston Poetry Prize. Her poetry collection, Matria, (Black Lawrence Press) is forthcoming in 2017. "La Mano" was first published in Green Mountains Review. Learn more about Alexandra here.
“Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration” is the first public offering of the newly formed Poetry Coalition—twenty-two organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Coalition member Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present ten poems in March that engage with this year’s theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem, “Borderbus.” The poems in this project were curated by Francisco Aragón & Emma Trelles.