Volume 23, Number 4

American Dream

Because Roberto gets to work at five
a.m., does not complain about the rate
he’s paid, reliably lifts twice the weight
a man his size should lift, this guy’s got drive,
the foreman tells his wife; I’m sure he’ll strive
as hard as anyone I’ve met. It’s great
to know that in America his fate
is in his hands, and in good time he’ll thrive.

But in his rooms at night, the mirror seems
to bend in waves against the distant shore
where he grew up and where his children live,
and when the light is off at last he dreams
of sending them each month two hundred more
and teaching them not how to thrive but give.

—Pedro Poitevin