Tricia Gates Brown

Undocumented

Coiled around me, helix of sleep

and dream, erasing space not you or me.

Not for fear, more reaching 


for a handrail, as you held

my arm in new company, talked fast,

tap dance of manners—top hat and vanilla smile. 


Okay, maybe fear. Tricks to stump 

suspicion: Yes, Sir. Beautiful day, Sir.

Can I help with that, Sir?—getting on the good 


side of white. I watched you serve, work, weigh

reactions to swarthy eyes and accent, 

signing Father, Son, Holy Ghost like cops 


stacked the deck to find you.

Will they know you broke laws to have

work matter, wanting just a house 


like your dad, a bath, shed of tools, tidy 

kitchen with chilies and lime? One safe thing 

this side of motherland?

Tricia Gates Brown’s poems and essays have appeared in various publications including Portland Review, Oregon Humanities, and Rathalla Review. Living on a farm in Yamhill, Oregon, she writes and edits, and dotes on a four-legged menagerie. She is author of the debut novel Wren (Frederick Press, 2018).