They slouch across oceans, across borders, have been for years, leaving a trail of footprints, litter, hope, the occasional corpse.
They descend on our fields, neck-deep in crops dusted with pesticides, the spore of new construction, bringing life to otherwise dying small towns in Kansas.
Many have the audacity to bring their families, to stay, sometimes for generations, and to speak the language given to them by the Conquistadores for a while before eventually losing it.
Often, they sing.
And they’re singing now. A family, several families, maybe thirty of them have rented a rowboat on a crystal lake that drowns a hidden forest amid frozen lava flows, an ancient reminder that this part of our country is still considered young by geologists, changing, heaving, convulsing beneath our very feet, reducing the idea of maps, borders, to a silly notion.
Eight of them crowd into the rowboat while the rest wait their turn on shore. The oars squeak as they zigzag, leaving little whirlpools from each kiss of a blade on the water. They draw sideways stares from the other fishermen, but they don’t care.
My daughter is fascinated by their joy. The smiles on the faces of the children. So much more compelling than my insistence on fish that never materialize. She sings along. It’s all one language after all.
And we’re both glad that they’re here.