for No Mas Muertas [who provide direct aid to crossing migrants in the S Arizona border-region]
By Vincent Hiscock
i: water camp lunar eclipse
On the level. I couldn’t really
guess, a few random bits,
foreign parts arranged in a matrix.
Firepit, high wind, saguaro, basin,
petroglyph heatwave & a ring of mountains.
It’s a designated wilderness.
José rode into our camp last night—
lying flat in the pickup of a long time activist—
twenty years old & his third time crossing.
He’s from North Vegas & spoke my same
California slang, him halfway
along a couple hundred mile walk to Tuscon
that he’d already hobbled once with a broken leg.
A different orbit of a white-ringed sun
burns a round moon red
as it sets across the center
of the night side of the earth,
glaring against the eastern horizon,
setting a second sundown
that passes over us.
It’s a midnight mass
to paint the lintel of the world red.
ii: late morning to afternoon
Walking flood-lines & mule deer paths,
we scramble a creek when we find it,
looking for migrants; instead,
we find a niche in the escarpment
filled with votive candles, a faded
picture of a young man, Golgotha
Santa Maria, coyote-scattered-bones,
waterfall’s unlit halo in the air,
death’s-head invocation, Malverde icons,
a message from a mother to a dead son, Romo
with a sign of peace. I light a candle,
try to say a prayer. We decide we’ve gone
far enough & hike back toward the camp.
Coming out of ravine shadow, a blinding land
empties eyesight out & stuns,
white pain burns
to a plain of glimmering light & shade,
& settles down to a few residual rings
floating across my eyes.
Ghosted eyesight of a shaky-sweating skull,
desert dehydration, & dust frecked
across a scarred land. Holy circles
of my overheated head & a ridge of peaks
flicker transparent against the east,
& beyond my vision on all sides
this silt basin is hooped in
by hundred million yearold granite masses,
diamondback sierra coiled into an aeon.
Vincent Hiscock grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and the northern reaches of the San Joaquin in Northern California. He recently received a MFA in poetry from Cornell University and is currently a PhD student at UC Irvine. He’s thankful for the council & comradeship of his mentor Alice Fulton.