Border Crossing
Jeanne Murray Walker

Border Crossing

for Steve Shoemaker

Mid November. The cicada’s ardent song
grows deafening. Wind rubs the oak’s old joints.
Something’s going to happen.
                                            The sky goes wrong,
purpling the way it purpled at the checkpoint
that day the border guard pawed through my luggage.
My heart skipped its ragged rope—child
that I became—as he lectured in a language
I didn’t understand, then grinned and piled
my books into his bag, and waved me through 
without them.
                      That’s the kind of line we’re about
to cross. You will lay down your precious words,
your name. They won’t be any use. You’ll 
climb the highest pass, wordless. A shout,                        
a greeting, and
                          the sky’s all sudden, golden birds.

Jeanne Murray Walker

has published eight collections of poetry, including, most recently, Helping the Morning: New and Selected Poems (Word Farm Press, 2014). Her award-winning plays have been produced around the U.S. and in London. Her memoir, The Geography of Memory: A Pilgrimage through Alzheimer's, was published in 2013 by Hachette Press, and in 2015 she co-edited with Luci Shaw Ambition: Essays by Members of The Chrysostom Society. She teaches at the University of Delaware, where she heads the creative writing faculty, and she is a mentor in the Seattle Pacific University low-residency MFA program.