We come upon her in a field
two miles east of the border,
just outside of Buford, Texas,
nearly frozen in the Maglite beam;
and only her lips are moving
as she practices her new name.
Marty as usual asks her about
origin and destination, getting
the usual answers.
We are quick to determine
that her papers are forgeries.
They claim she is twenty-one,
she appears to be
twelve years old,
and she might be anywhere
within four years of either age.
She will not meet our eyes.
We ask how much she paid.
One hundred, she says.
Well, hope you got your money's worth, I tell her.
I ask if this is her first time across the line.
She says yes.
There is no way of knowing if this is true.
I ask her if she will try again,
though I already know the answer:
in every corner of the world
someone like her is rehearsing a new name;
this one will practice much harder next time.
On the way back to the border
she huddles in the back corner of the van,
still rehearsing the name as if it were
a prayer, as if all it would take is a name to
free her, keep her safe,
make her invisible.
She is praying for a name that
will do what
it is supposed to do.