Chino, California

By Darla Himeles

Two crows claw down to cement
between the outer and inner fences—

beaks like swords, backs slick,
slashing wings and talons.

I watch them fight from my car today
as I watched my parents as a child: clutching

a book in my lap. I cannot read
the crows or my father, for whom I wait

in my locked car, his bag of belongings
in the back seat beside the maps I printed

to find him. At once, a line cuts
from one building to another: orange

jumpsuits shocking under smoggy, industrial sky.
I pinch my lip, examine their faces, their gaits.

Not my father, not my father—maybe? No,
not my father.

Hours pass, the crows disperse.
The prison yard empties.

Two hours after the designated release, a small
group of men gathers at the gate.

Escorted by officers, they wear stiff beige chinos,
white canvas loafers, and baggy T-shirts

to greet the other side. I see him
shaking his gray head to an officer, No,

there’s nobody here for me—must be a mistake
Sir, I need the bus fare promised me.

Originally appeared in NOR 20.

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