CHASING THE GREEN CARD by Mather Schneider

It is absurd
what men have made
of life:
this government office
tucked away in a low rent warehouse district
behind a run-down McDonald’s
where the bitch security guard
makes you take off your belt
and shoes
and give her all your things
and walk through the metal detector
like a portal to
hell:
the big room with 60 chairs lined up
and not a single person
not a plant
or a picture
nothing on the walls
no windows
not a single piece of lint on the carpet
no water allowed
no food, they barely
allow air.
And you sit with your Mexican wife
and wait for the door to open
and the little mousy government official
to poke his head out
and mispronounce your names
(but don’t correct him, god!)
and usher you into his
tiny office, again
no windows, nothing on the white walls
but oppression, righteousness
and a military calendar.
And in this tiny room you will beg
for leniency, for him
to let your wife stay in this country
beg him to believe you are really
in love
that you are good people who just want to live
together and be happy
to live a simple life
without trouble, that you didn’t ask
for this to happen
she didn’t ask to be born
in Mexico with no money, she didn’t ask
to have hope
and courage
and you didn’t ask to meet her and fall in love
and if you can’t properly define
what it means for two human beings
to need each other, he will
tear your life apart.
And you will watch his face
for any signs of compassion
and see none, no smile, nothing
just nods at your answers
as he makes his little checkmarks and notes
on a paper
and looks at a computer screen
you can’t see
and this man who has lied 20 times already that day
will judge you both immoral
and unworthy
and point to a tiny paragraph
in a 1,000 page law book
as proof.
When it’s over
he says you will never see him again
and you will receive notice
in the mail, yes or no, yes or
no
maybe in a week, maybe a month
maybe the post-person
will lose the fucking thing, maybe it will get
sent to your asshole
neighbor.
If your request is denied, what then? you ask
as your wife begins to cry
and he looks at you as if that is a
stupid question.
She will have to go back
to Mexico, he says, so calm
so absurd, so easy
as he sips his water from a clear bottle
and shows you the door
as if you’ve forgotten where it was
and that’s it:
he’s got his paycheck, it’s
Friday
he’ll have his pension
at age 55
he’ll go to Puerto Vallarta
for vacation
and give the poor beggar children
pennies
and think nothing absurd
about it.
You want to kill him and wonder
who is more insane
him or you
which is more absurd
his life or yours
and you leave the building
and stand in the sun
and hug your wife
as she cries.
There’s still hope, you say
pulling her closer.
And so you wait, which is what you’ve been
doing for 2 years
all your life it seems
the small man who has no power and so must
say to himself things like
“roll with the punches” and
“be like water”
and “love your fate”
but the truth is
it hurts:
this absurdity
this waiting
without knowing
what will happen to you.

One Response to “CHASING THE GREEN CARD by Mather Schneider”

  1. priscampbell Says:

    Wow! This poem knocked me over. So good!

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