Homeland Security Agent

Esther Lin

To offer myself as servant to the Lord

of bureaucrats I spring to sacred task:

dismantle the vests and boats of refugees.

For them the word home must be home enough.

My nation rests its feet on little graves;

our kings will not say Syria. Will not say

A boy lies dead on the beach. The foam hardens

around him. His father cannot find him.

His uncle has sunk like a stone. His sister

wanders the wilderness. No, she hasn’t

seen her brother. She lives on fire alone;

her spirit is yet slain. Thus I call

a crusade against my enemy—I

would like to unclothe her of her suffering.

Esther Lin was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant for twenty-one years. Her forthcoming book, Cold Thief Place, won the 2023 Alice James Award.
Originally published:
June 10, 2024


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