bless your heart
In Brownsville, Texas, a former Walmart has been remodeled into a prison
for 1,500 Central American refugee children. Each morning, they awake
in the arms of empire to face a flag dipped in their own blood and
heartbreak, their tongue tethered to their captor. I shouldn’t be surprised, I know.
I’m trying my hardest these days to live somewhere at the crossroad of shock and
we’ve-been-here-before. Could there be a greater example of capitalism doing
exactly what it was born to do? Morphing and molting to reveal what it always
has been, always will be. There are murals of our presidents scattered around
the converted supercenter like a shrine. Proof again and again this is not new.
Though yes, ICE is new. The same age as Finding Nemo. This history that
is ours, so warm and close beneath our feet. In my hometown of Bentonville,
Arkansas, Walmart’s headquarters cut through the Trail of Tears. And just
a few months ago, a rare sighting of liberal protesters gathered around the
Confederate soldier statue to call for an end to gun violence. Each year,
thousands of pilgrims from around the globe flock to Bentonville
for the altar call of capitalism. God is a businessman with a gun
behind his back and a warm Southern smile reassuring his
customers that they are family. Bless your heart, they are
saying to those children. Which, where I’m from, is the politest
way to say—Fuck you. Go back to where you came from.
And where are we from but here: that statue, leading
toward that bloodstained exodus road, down the aisles
of children rolled back and priced in the name of freedom.
* Gabrielle's poem is concrete. It is best viewed on the desktop platform.
Gabrielle Spear is a poet & community organizer based in Queens & raised in Northwest Arkansas. She was named a Goucher College Kratz Summer Writing Fellow, a finalist in LUMINA Journal’s 2017 Borders & Boundaries Nonfiction Contest judged by Leslie Jamison, & a Brooklyn Poets Fellow. Her work most recently appeared in Sukoon & is forthcoming in The Indianapolis Review. You can find her tweeting @gabsters93.