Jessica Mehta


Juan G.

For a year he cut the lawn, and I never
knew his last name. I had to ask
the neighbor in the yellow
house after he vanished, her roses
dormant witnesses in the dark. When I’d tried
in terrible Spanish to explain where to plant the lavender,
my macete stumbled out machete
and he’d laughed behind black
cheap glasses, said, Police, bad,
they don’t like it.
Words fall out
clumsy, twisted, and his surname—
we only cared when he’d gone. Then,
it was knocks on doors, furtive
asks in the night. For a week I watched
the online detainee locator site,
made calls that never came back.
The neighbor patrolled his church, carried
back stories of an avocado orchard
outside Tancítaro, unravelling
acres of drug cartels with fuerte-slick lips
where his father-in-law was murdered
last month. We don’t know to hope
that ICE ripened him out or if he turned scared
and went south. Children hunkered
the cab with grass clippings, his wife
watching the exit signs fall
to one. Who knows? the neighbor
said, her white teeth shining. Maybe one day
he’ll show up with a truck of avocados

and his cataracts scraped clean.

JESSICA MEHTA is an award-winning Cherokee poet, novelist, and author of ten books. Find out more at her author site at