Poem of the Week | December 18, 2012

This week we’re featuring another poem from our brand-spanking-new “German Shepherd” issue, Fall 2012, 35.3. Margaree Little’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Bloom, and Beloit Poetry Journal.  She is a recent graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and has worked as an assistant editor in the Program’s archival collection of craft lectures.  Originally from Rhode Island, she lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Author’s Note:

Over the last ten years, the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border has pushed those who are crossing into increasingly remote corridors, in particular the most remote areas of the Sonoran desert.  Hundreds of people die each year attempting the passage: in 2009-2010 alone, 253 bodies were recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border, a number generally understood to be only a fraction of those who have actually died, most of whom have not been found.

 From 2009 to 2011 I worked with one of the humanitarian aid organizations that have formed in response to the situation here.  Volunteers walk desert trails, leaving water and searching for people in need of emergency medical care.  In 2010, while mapping a trail in the desert south of Tucson, my friends and I found the remains of an unidentified man who the medical examiner estimated had died at least six months before.  The poems that appear here emerged out of that experience, and are part of a book-length sequence.

What Was Missing

The undersides
of the hands. The hair.


The eyes. The chin,
the spot where the chin


becomes the neck.
Both of the arms.


The armpits.
The left tennis sneaker,


Wilson brand.
Water that we could


have left for him.
The sound of trains.


The canals that carry sound
into the ears. The ears.


Bruises and lips.
Wallet, if there ever was


a wallet. Genitals
and what they wanted.


Light after a while.
Dark after a while.


Thighs. A name.
The face, the neck.