We can all see her in our mind’s eye: Dumped with her wailing infant by her captors to die, she staggers across the grueling desert, choking on her swollen tongue and broken teeth left from the fists that had subdued her. She’s desperate for water for her and her baby, her teenage once-budding breasts now withered and empty in the cruel sun. She has only a few occasional drops of spit to offer the hungry infant. Terrified by their attempts at making her compliant, she’d begged the hired coyotes not to kill her baby as they’d held a gun to the tiny head, laughing at her terror, forcing her to accept them without resistance into her sore, struggling body, both of them, one debasement after another as she submits to protect the tiny being with her very life. Would the child remember? She’d fled the murderous gangs in her blood-soaked former Central American Paradise with her fretful new baby daughter, just days old. They’d named her Maria after her mother who’d been raped and murdered by the same gang of thugs, one of the many reasons they were fleeing in terror. The young mother had watched in horror as her husband was slaughtered in front of her, and it was only a nearby explosion that distracted the killers that had enabled her to escape to the waiting coyotes. They’d already been paid all the money they had to escort the young family to freedom in America despite the tales of the dangerous trip to an unwelcoming destination. Would the child remember? She and her newborn had traveled alone with the coyotes, her only choice. Her wailing, hungry infant had caused her to be abandoned by the coyotes who claimed her baby’s cries had gotten on their nerves. They’d left her barely conscious, raped and beaten, kicking sand on them both. Would the child remember? The mother was alone with her pain and her grief, guided during freezing nights only by the moon and the stars, protected only by a shabby blanket, sheltering in burrows where she could, finding sustenance from the occasional cactus. Her only thoughts besides the profound numbness, a feeling of cement in her soul, were of a dream of life in America, safety for her daughter, a chance to live decently, to prosper, to get an education for her and her daughter, to have the space and support to heal and maybe once again feel joy. Now her brown body is covered by a torn garment and insect bites, bruises, dirt, crusted semen and cuts from her rapists. Had Maria been watching, screaming? Would the child remember? Feeling abandoned by everyone, even God, she scoops up the sunburned infant, and sobs a raspy lullaby as an avalanche of salty tears flow, dampening her baby’s sand-filled hair, both their sobs of anguish blending, unbearable to hear if one were listening. All the mother’s belongings and papers are gone with the cruel men along with the water and food to sustain them on their final miles to freedom. Beyond exhaustion, she resists the urge to curl up on the burning ground. Her baby held close to her battered heart, staggering on, a bloodied Warrior Woman determined to start a new life for her and her child. Overhead, vultures circle patiently, following her blistered footsteps. Suddenly she believed she was hallucinating, for there in the distance, she spotted on the horizon what must surely be a mirage, a border fence where kind people have stashed nearby jugs of water and cans of food! She forges ahead in disbelief and wonder toward a mountain of precious, life-giving water, gallons and gallons, beside sparkling cans of nourishing beans. She hadn’t eaten in days and was often delirious, hanging on only for the sake of her precious baby. From a deep reservoir of whatever incredible strength mothers have to protect their babies no matter the cost, the woman begins to run, hope springing as it eternally does, propelling her toward the possibility of life. Baby bouncing on her skinny shoulders, gasping, sobbing with relief, doubting what she’s seeing, she draws closer and closer to salvation. Suddenly stopping in shock, her voice hoarse and dry, she screams, “NO” and sinks to her knees in the hot sand, unable to believe her eyes, not comprehending how anyone could do such a cruel thing, pouring out the water and food, taunting the desperate by leaving piles of empty jugs and cans that can lead to only one thing, deliberate murder. Her mind ablaze with only hot light and unbearable pain, she stops, staring in disbelief. What human being could have done this? Pulling the baby up to her face, she screams, disbelieving, as Maria’s little head lolls on the tiny neck. She has finally stopped crying... We can all see them in our mind’s eye...if we’ll only look... * * * Swarthmore, PA 2019 Post Script: We have lost our fragile moral center. What other explanation can there be for the creeping fascism responsible for cruel laws, arresting humanitarians, spilling lifesaving food and water, baby jails, illegally turning away legitimate asylum seekers, tearing families apart, lying as blood sport, toxic masculinity in all its’ warmongering glory, and the ongoing degradation of Mother Earth and all of her women, girls, boys, and WOKE men, men of consciousness and morality whose time it is to step up to the plate and stop this murdering madness. Who are these creators of baby jails? “Decent White Supremacists” flourish as racial hatred, violence, war and mass incarceration have become normalized, as America is hit by an apparently unparalleled acceptable tsunami of greed, racism, sexism and corruption, especially targeting those with black and brown skin. Who refuse to know truth, who choose deliberate, cultures ignorance? Who listen to and follow blindly messages of hate? The Golden Rule, to which many subscribe, has been kicked on its’ proverbial ass, unchallenged by Christian hypocrites. Her shrunken breasts will once again fill with life, too late for her baby. Will her heart ever heal? Her soul come back to life? Is there a world where she can thrive? Will her mind heal? Her Spirit? Will she surrender to the crushing weight of despair or become radicalized? How does the needless death of one tiny, brown-skinned child, affect each of us? Who might Maria and all the lost Marias and Pedros have become? WAKE UP AMERICA! We can all see it all in our mind’s eye, if we’ll only look... March 2019 Much later she would learn that the humanitarian women from Arizona who’d left the food and water for the families fleeing across the desert had been arrested by border guards, who’d gleefully poured out the life-sustaining food and water with happy smiles for the cameras. They are following new immigration policies in a country that, despite claiming democracy, seems to have a disgust for refugees and immigrants, demonizing them, with a fondness for despots and variations of blatant white supremacy.