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31

Good Night, Boa Vista

Dispatch from the Brazil-Venezuela border

(missing author)

0
terms
1
notes

haunting. by Zoe Dutka

? (2019). Good Night, Boa Vista. n+1, 34, pp. 31-44

39

Recently I met a man on a bike outside a produce shop, around the same age as my husband and visibly fatigued, sweat dripping down his ashen face. He asked the owner of the shop for a glass of water, and she acted as if she hadn’t understood, though it’s the same word in Portuguese as it is in Spanish: água. I bought a bottle from the fridge and asked him his name. He looked up when he heard me speak. Jesús was his name, he had been in Boa Vista for six days, and the only money he’d made was twenty reais (around $5) for mowing someone’s lawn. Another migrant had lent him a bike so he could look for work. I told him it was dangerous to be out at midday. It was over 100 degrees, and the streets were deserted. He would do any kind of job, he went on, he only wanted to send his mother food for her to eat. That’s how he said it, comida para ella comer. I went to the car to get some groceries. His face tightened as he looked into the plastic bag, not from disappointment but because he clearly despised himself; his need for water, his need to eat. He took my hand, squeezed it gently, and got back on the bike.

I teach a creative writing class at the immigrant aid center inside the university. In a recent class I asked my students to write down a memory, any memory, using all five senses. A 15-year-old girl stood up to share hers.

“My happiest memory,” she began, “is waking up in my bed . . .”

Then she was crying too hard to continue.

fuck this writing is so good

—p.39 missing author 4 years, 7 months ago

Recently I met a man on a bike outside a produce shop, around the same age as my husband and visibly fatigued, sweat dripping down his ashen face. He asked the owner of the shop for a glass of water, and she acted as if she hadn’t understood, though it’s the same word in Portuguese as it is in Spanish: água. I bought a bottle from the fridge and asked him his name. He looked up when he heard me speak. Jesús was his name, he had been in Boa Vista for six days, and the only money he’d made was twenty reais (around $5) for mowing someone’s lawn. Another migrant had lent him a bike so he could look for work. I told him it was dangerous to be out at midday. It was over 100 degrees, and the streets were deserted. He would do any kind of job, he went on, he only wanted to send his mother food for her to eat. That’s how he said it, comida para ella comer. I went to the car to get some groceries. His face tightened as he looked into the plastic bag, not from disappointment but because he clearly despised himself; his need for water, his need to eat. He took my hand, squeezed it gently, and got back on the bike.

I teach a creative writing class at the immigrant aid center inside the university. In a recent class I asked my students to write down a memory, any memory, using all five senses. A 15-year-old girl stood up to share hers.

“My happiest memory,” she began, “is waking up in my bed . . .”

Then she was crying too hard to continue.

fuck this writing is so good

—p.39 missing author 4 years, 7 months ago