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who would do anything for their country if they didn’t first love someone in it

sixth grade, I’m scaling a fence with the other immigrant kids,
all of us raised on gratitude for a country that doesn’t want us
the school’s on lockdown but we’re proof that borders ain’t shit

helicopters, cameras, shouts. we’re bigger than the ’68 march
but all I see is the white shirt in front of me, the white shirt next to me,
signs held like shields and history dragging at our heels

all that sweat and what did we wring from it
a lecture in church and angry parents
who only know sacrifice when they’re the lambs
who only know the risks and never want us to take them

everyone says you’re too young
but never as an apology

Yesenia Vargas (she/her) is a Los Angeles writer currently working in communications and public relations. A volunteer with the nonprofit press Phoneme Media, she dabbles in literary translation from Spanish and French, and in her free time bounces between local concerts and LAFC matches. She can be found on Instagram at @yesi_se_puede.

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