Border Roads

by Nina Foushee, ’15 

This poem is based on a time this past summer when I was driving on the dirt roads around Rio Rico, Arizona with a couple who live there and work regularly with immigrants. They told me that if you hit a cow and kill it, the expectation is that you reimburse the rancher to whom the cow belonged. The price of a cow’s body, as determined by its weight, made me think about the kind of concern we have for any living entity once we are tied to its economic impact. It also made me think about the fact that, working on the border for a summer, I encountered some ranchers for whom the life of a cows really did seem to hold a more pressing importance than the life of a migrant crosser.

Border Roads

We drive slowly because
if you kill a cow
you pay by the pound.

We can weigh life,
curse its price
damn lumbering body
makes us late for work.

Who pays for human migrant bodies?

What weight on us
when the desert takes a crosser.

The corpses are light after the sun eats them.I drive my car more slowly
but slaughterhouses wait for the cows that live.Off the road
my inaction drives
migrants, bovine
into the land of the dead.


Nina Foushee is a sophomore majoring in History. She is from Tucson, Arizona, and she spent the past summer working with immigrants on the border of Arizona and Mexico. She and her family are passionate about many of the things that make Arizona both a despicable place and an important place to be a liberal: anti-ethnic studies legislation, immigrant rights laws, gun control laws etc. 

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