[ Arizona-based poet Lollie Butler’s poetry captures the horrors
of refugees crossing the Sonora desert.] [https://portside.org/] 

 PORTSIDE CULTURE 

 ON THE DRY SEA OF SONORA  
[https://portside.org/2020-05-15/dry-sea-sonora] 

 

 Lollie Butler 
 March 25, 2020
Chiron Review 

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 _ Arizona-based poet Lollie Butler’s poetry captures the horrors of
refugees crossing the Sonora desert. _ 

 , 

 

On the Dry Sea of Sonora

 By Lollie Butler 

Everything the shadow of a wall can’t cure

pays profits to 

                        the sun. 

Take this man Jaime and his wife Rosa

handing off their two young ones 

                      like duffels; 

                      crossing themselves

as they cross La Frontera…_Adios…adios…_

…_Via con Dios…_

See how their faces turn 

to the small-craft warnings of Sonora; 

                    man and woman adrift

in a lifeboat

made of coyote promises. 

Walking north with two day’s water 

                   for a five-day journey, 

the sun rises

over the range of javalina, 

bears down like 

the wrath of the Aztec God; 

offers no solace.  These rigors 

the wildcat takes in stride

and will gnaw the bones 

                   of _los povres  _

when the sky and sand change places

as plodding droops to crawling 

on the dry sea of Sonora.  

El sol…el sol, there is nothing but 

the skin-splitting sun as man and woman 

follow their only god; a single shade tree

                  beckoning

from the rippling horizon. 

Under the anger of noon, 

the rattler recoils 

and the distant mountains spin 

                  like folk dancers. 

Beef jerky gone, weak water, 

until there’s nothing

but the thought of torn nails 

from family timbers; the lack 

of legal papers, saying they are counted 

among lives worth living. 

Man and woman will gamble survival 

                   in one world 

against the scant means of another, 

                  searching 

for work their empty hands ache 

to reach.  At night 

their _ninos _cry like dark-eyed mice. 

_Adios…adios…_

Under a bruised sky, the sun drops 

behind the mountains; 

a double chain of footprints

              comes to an end

and hope’s votive candle 

is blown out across Sonora.   

Lollie Butler is a Fellow in Literature, granted by the Arizona
Commission for the Arts.  After earning an MFA from the University of
Arizona, she taught Creative Writing to women inmates of the Arizona
State Prison, and won several awards including a fellowship from The
Arizona Commission for the Arts.  She was awarded Tucson Citizen of
the Year in 2003 for her work with refugees.  Her poetry and prose
are published widely. Lollie lives in Tucson with various wild
creatures of the desert. 

 

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