A large plastic bag will keep you dry
during the heavy rain storms.
In Tapachula, you have a safe place to rest; **
it might be your last chance to call home.
You know there are killers and thieves
who are setting their traps along the way,
and when you are riding on top of it,
watch for the wasps living in the trees.
Don’t fall asleep inside it—you might disappear.
If you are exhausted, jump off and rest.
Follow its tracks until you feel it returning.
The faster it advances, the stronger its pull is.
Don’t be fooled—at first it will lure you in
with its steady prowess, but it can slit
a leg off or two, so don’t be fooled by its hum.
If you jump off, don’t just stand there.
And don’t run beside its belly either—
No, run away from the pounding. Run like
a ceiling is falling, like people are falling on you.
As for routes, go through Matamoros
for getting into Texas, and for California,
get to Tijuana, but if you cross Nogales
into Arizona, be very careful. You will find
discarded shoes and gutted suitcases in fields.
There are graveyards without names.
No one carries an ID. For others and you,
we give offerings to our clandestino priest
who was killed during the Cristero War. ***
Always watch out for the white vans—they
are full of policemen. They drive very slow.
It takes up to six days to cross the desert.
Always carry plenty of water. Ranchers carry guns.
Everything has thorns. At first sight, think twice
before trusting even a good omen.
Juan Delgado, “La Bestia / The Beast.” Copyright © 2017 Juan Delgado. Used by permission of the author for PoetryNow, a partnership between the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network.