Across the border, without incident,
Passing through Red Mesa
(Tho’ it might as well be the moon),
You stop for the night at a Motel 6,
Cheap, and warm enough.
She’s promised you a hot meal once you reach the valley.
Catching the eye of a woman
Turning the key to 107,
You nod goodnight.
Not a threat, just another hungry traveler.
Sometime, three, maybe four a.m.
You wake; hear the muffled shout,
The scuffle in the corridor outside,
A thud, then silence.
You lie, breath held, in your sweat-soaked shirt,
Every creaking floorboard,
Every car door a trigger warning;
Watching the clock’s vapid glow,
Every muscle screaming fight or flight,
Till the tell-tale sun whispers urgently at the blinds,
And you turn your water-splashed face to
Another desperate morning.
Passing room 107,
Your sleepless eyes register the open door,
The unmade bed,
The empty room,
The smear of something, rusty brown,
On the door jamb.
On the far side of the parking lot
Only a coyote watches
As you climb into your truck, and drive away.
In February 2018 the US hotel chain Motel 6 was being sued for racial profiling of guests with ‘Latino-sounding names’ and for passing guests’ personal information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents who have then detained people, without probable cause. Having just completed a short play script about DACA deportees, I was prompted to tell this story too. There is no Motel 6 at Red Mesa, but there are locations in Arizona where this has occurred. There is a border patrol point at Four Corners, a remote region of northern Arizona, and as an immigrant myself I feel extremely uneasy crossing the border, even a border within the States. In the current political climate, anything can happen, and many things can go wrong.