It starts before she gets here before the stairs tell her she's alien to a country that knows her great grandfather’s Mexican hands all too well his finger prints still echo underneath rail road tracks and cotton fields where bent knees and bent backs once pushed and worked for more money than what he is used to but less than he deserves for Ana Maria it begins before the boarder she walked with her two uncles and abuela through the desert for one week with no more than a few gallons of water and a prayer of empty pockets hoping both to last long enough the sun is an unforgiving God but any God is worth having right now the wind pushing at their backs is a grunt of gunshots from drunk drug cartels and the desperation of a job to employee their stomachs both have been an uninvited guests at their door steps so they step step Ana Maria’s small hand clutches the bottom of her abuelas dress another step her mother waits on the other side Hoping that her face still sings at home like it used to another step she is too young to know what boarder mean she thinks that people are just family members who haven't met yet after her family arrives she will learn that there are some boarders you can't cross by foot Ana Maria is now ten years old she's learning enough English to to translate for her parents but says that her thick accent is a still problem she tries to fix it by leaving in her locker when the teacher calls on her to read she tries to speak proper as if proper has a sound she pushed her tongue down so it doesn’t roll her R's but she trips on the balances and symbols and back to too much sound right off kicks in her speech her tongue is a stubborn dancer the two boys behind her don't know how to do long division but they know what a wet back and that Ana Maria has braids and Ana Marias hair is thicker than her sisters and they don't know how they know but they know how to treat difference when they smell it so they say things like go back to your country as If the Irish ancestors never walked through Elise island Ana Maria is now sixteen her father works 18 hour days as a dishwasher her mother cleans houses shell never get to live in so that Maria can sit at a collage class room and say I am here but her guidance counselor t says and can't get financial aid or instate tuition rate cause of her status she says it like an apology Ana wonder wonders if her family ever crossed the border there just stuck inside another one aggravates it like a soul and her guidance counselor stands in front of her with a mouth full of fences there are some boarders you can't cross by foot but borders I tell her that can only be crossed by stubborn backbones so if they ask you for your papers and show them your skin and your tongue and show them they can’t keep you any longer, don’t be afraid to dream, and lead and Tell them in the language that you know best that they cannot keep you any longer and that you are not scared anymore .

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