“Shadow,” he said. “Check it out.”
As they floated by, carried now by the current, they saw
faces staring out at them from the bushes. Gaunt, haunted
faces. Silent Mexican men hiding from the Border Patrol.
Waiting for night. one raised his hand in a silent greeting.
Shadow and Junior dug in with their paddles and moved
downstream. They paddled past a wrecked car sitting beneath
a bare tree. Chickens scratched around the chassis. Suddenly,
they broke out into an even bigger body of water. To the south,
they saw the skeletal towers of the power station.
“The sea!” shouted Shadow.
“That’s not the sea,” said Junior. “This is the cooling pond.
Big Angel used to go fishing here.”
They let the canoe drift while they ate their sandwiches.
A sea turtle broke the surface of the water and blew air
“Jesus Christ!” shouted Shadow.
Junior had heard about this—the turtles congregated
around the power station, enjoying the warm water. He was
about to tell Shadow all about it when a Border Patrol helicopter roared overhead, made a sharp turn, and swooped down
WHITE TRUCKS SKIDDED to a stop on the banks and bull-
horns commanded them to beach the canoe. Shadow was
mouthing o= before he even got out of the boat. “Fuckin’ rac-
ists! I’m an American citizen! That’s right! That’s right! You
can’t do shit to me, gringos cabrones! I am uSA all the way!”
he raised his fists. “uSA, all the way! uSA, all the way!”
But it turned out he wasn’t uSA all the way at all. When
the Border Patrol agents got them to the station, they dis-
covered that Shadow García was illegal. He’d been born in
Tijuana, and his parents had snuck him over the border as
an infant. He’d been in the uSA illegally all this time and
never knew it.
“But I ain’t no Mexican,” he said. “I’m a Chicano. I’m a
He and his family vanished that night. Junior never saw
Shadow again. He sat through Mr. Hitler’s endless droning
lectures, taking notes for those failures, Chango and Little
Angel. But he never did read Louie and Clark. And he never
again went downhill to the gravel lot.
And he never did find out what happened to that pinche
Hear an orion podcast of Luis Alberto Urrea reading this story
aloud at orionmagazine.org or through iTunes.
driving to doug and Hilary’s
Cabin in Northern Wisconsin
At dusk the deer appear on the highway shoulder,
more of them as the light continues to die.
Suddenly they simply are,
bare brown outlines, hesitant. I am
to scan for movement, eye-shine; my husband,
to brake when I say deer. If I say deer
are the world at dusk, barred owls — if antlers
are trees in silhouette; if as the light goes down
we are coming out of our hiding places, on the move
to night feeding grounds, hunted, haunted,
should I say I see these things,
even if I cannot name the pine
the deer walk among, could not track
their hoof prints to the river. If the ribbon
my life moves along is thin: diner,
asphalt. The poem is older than
ochre, sienna horses inked on stone,
older than my body, can I say it?
The deer are the world at dusk.
My body cannot help but remember.
The deer cannot help bolting into the road
in front of our car. They cannot help walking
with the name we gave them,
which once did not mean deer
but any untamed thing that breathes
and traces back to the Sanskrit for he perishes.