part 2 - Andy's border photos, plus a poem

The Border: A Double Sonnet 

by Albert Rios

The border is a line that birds cannot see. 
The border is a beautiful piece of paper folded carelessly in half. 
The border is where flint first met steel, starting a century of fires. 
The border is a belt that is too tight, holding things up but making it hard to breathe. 
The border is a rusted hinge that does not bend. 
The border is the blood clot in the river’s vein. 
The border says stop to the wind, but the wind speaks another language, and keeps going. 
The border is a brand, the “Double-X” of barbed wire scarred into the skin of so many. 
The border has always been a welcome stopping place but is now a stop sign, always red. 
The border is a jump rope still there even after the game is finished. 
The border is a real crack in an imaginary dam. 
The border used to be an actual place, but now, it is the act of a thousand imaginations. 
The border, the word border, sounds like order, but in this place they do not rhyme. 
The border is a handshake that becomes a squeezing contest. 
The border smells like cars at noon and wood smoke in the evening. 
The border is the place between the two pages in a book where the spine is bent too far. 
The border is two men in love with the same woman. 
The border is an equation in search of an equals sign. 
The border is the location of the factory where lightning and thunder are made. 
The border is “NoNo” The Clown, who can’t make anyone laugh. 
The border is a locked door that has been promoted. 
The border is a moat but without a castle on either side. 
The border has become Checkpoint Chale. 
The border is a place of plans constantly broken and repaired and broken. 
The border is mighty, but even the parting of the seas created a path, not a barrier. 
The border is a big, neat, clean, clear black line on a map that does not exist. 
The border is the line in new bifocals: below, small things get bigger; above, nothing changes. 
The border is a skunk with a white line down its back.


border immersion experience

guest post by Tucker

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to the US/Mexico border with fellow Broad Street churchgoers, including some of my friends, as well as my dad. It was not a service trip, but rather an immersion experience, a time to learn as much as we could about the lives and culture of the people there. Our group gained insight from conversations with border patrol, worshipped with communities on both sides, played soccer with children in vacant lots and dug compost piles with local women, toured the Last Supper museum and explored the nearby Cafe Justo's coffee roasting facility.

When we arrived in Agua Prieta, the town right across the border from Douglas, Arizona, there was an obvious contrast between the two places. On the American side, the border is a tall, metal wall covered in razor wire, surrounded by a large ditch and the bleak, littered wastes of the desert. Along la calle internacional, the wall is a grand canvas for murals displayed along a well-kept sidewalk. Rather than an unattractive deterrence, the border is a daily part of life for people in Agua Prieta. 

In Mexico, a favorite activity of mine was preparing tamales for dinner. Tamales are made from masa (the “dough”) and meat or cheese, which are then steamed in a corn husk. Several women demonstrated each step before letting one of us try. Everyone lended a hand in the process, which was fun to see. I was in charge of cutting jalapeƱos, and a pastor we met earlier had me pour Coca-Cola over my hands to remove the spicy chemical. We assembled the tamales using various ingredients the group prepared. Once I had taken my first bite, I knew immediately that it was some of the best food I’d ever eaten. 

Although it was difficult, I appreciate the opportunity to experience walking through the Sonoran desert, a remote and deadly area. It was unlike any place I had been before; mesquite trees dominated the sandy flats, and the wall metaphorically loomed over us the entire time. It was built to be thirty feet tall, at which height a human feels disoriented. We stopped frequently along the trek to discuss how and why migrants come into the United States, or to point out the security cameras on the other side. I was grateful for the water, food, and sun protection I had. 

The prayer vigil we participated in was a very special moment. We had the opportunity to honor the lives of nearly one hundred migrants who passed on while crossing into the United States. Everyone walked along a busy road, one at a time reading the name out loud from a cross, then placing it on the curb. I felt a connection to each individual, whether they were there physically or in spirit. Afterward, we had dinner at Art Car World, which was a pleasant and uplifting time following a sad afternoon. This museum features drivable cars covered in whimsical art, such as hundreds of cat figurines, cameras, or music boxes. 

If there is one thing I could share, I would say that the people in Mexico are some of the kindest and hardest-working I have met. They are not very different from Americans at all. I believe we should embrace anyone seeking a job or a home in the United States. My visit might have been one of my favorite trips of all time. Getting to spend a week in Mexico was so great because while it was fun it was also a tremendous learning experiences.