Alan Pelaez Lopez

On a visit to my Amá’s, she drives us to the DMV.

She must renew her license every few months.

The asylum case has not yet been approved.

Not enough evidence that home is unsafe.

The line is long. The DMV is inside a mall.

In America, everything is for sale. Migrants

pay for safety. We pay people to believe

that what we tell them is true, especially

when we have spared them the hardest

facts to hold. Immigration, DMV, school,

and medical forms ask for our stories.

We pay for our stories too. We pay in smiles,

pretend laughs, head nods, empty stomachs,

panic attacks reserved for elevators,

migraines that will last four days but go

unnamed :: unuttered. After thirty-eight, or

forty minutes, we advance seven or so people

and the Carter’s window is visible from where

Amá and I stand. Overalls. My heart raises.

Eyes begin to shake. Mall lighting hurts

my eyes. I see five Carter’s logos and know

there is only one. I slam my back against the

glass windows. People look (and pretend they

don’t). I try to find my inhaler. It’s not in my

pockets. I close my eyes. I think about a boy.

Kissing a boy. I think about him more. I open

my eyes and look for my mother. Avoid looking

at the Carter’s again. The DMV does not

renew the license. Something about an error

or a glitch :: a document and migration :: (maybe)

a mother and a child. At five, I wore a pair of

overalls. Crossed a border in them too.

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