Migrant: A Triptych

Aaron Pinnix


Lilac Shot Through with Magenta

The ship is old and leaks.

A bit of crossbeam crumbles under your hand.

You spend as much time as possible on the main deck—Something in the hold is rotten, the smell permeates the ship.

The wind increases, women’s cotton and cashmere dresses whip.

Salt sprays everyone’s faces, several hats fly along the deck.

You think about the creatures you are passing over. Lobsters, jellyfish, sea turtles. One night you hear the call of cetaceans through the hull of the ship. Dolphins, you think, or maybe small whales. They sound close.

You imagine a giant question mark ahead. Beyond the horizon.

You remember your friend’s small sailboat, but this is different.

You keep your money in your sock. You are nervous that someone will go through your things while you walk on the deck. 

All you have is all you have.

You eat from the tin. You miss fresh food.

The ocean looks boring, it stretches forever. 

Quickly a storm blows up. The ocean looks terrifying. Waves take on the color of spilt oil, lilac shot through with magenta. 

The sharks that have been following the ship, eating garbage, disappear.


A Deeper Indigo

Your daughter speaks this language much better than you. 

She visits her friend who lives in a ranch style house with a backyard pool. They listen to popular music records in the garage. The father works in rockets. You are a car mechanic. 

Your knuckles are busted from the wrench slipping in grease and oil.

When they invite you and your daughter over for a birthday party, you’re not familiar with the TV shows they discuss. You haven’t been to Roman’s for the steak. You discuss how your grandmother prepared horsemeat. They listen politely but don’t ask questions. 

You are surprised when you have to move again. 

Your daughter doesn’t want to leave school. 

They are changing the laws. You feel unwelcome. 

You are fired, though you are a good worker. “I’m sorry,” your boss says.

You stop at the edge of the highway and get out. Everything feels very quiet. Your daughter, sullen in the backseat, refuses to join you. The desert abounds, surrounds you. You realize you don’t know the names of the birds here. The plants are different. So thorny and tough. Have you become like these plants?

You think of the mountains where you grew up, small deer peering at you from between the trees. 

The sky turns creamy orange, then a deeper indigo. You think of the ocean. You get back in the car.


Lavender from Above

When the old man down the street offers you food, you are surprised.

He gives you corn from his garden. You pick leftover okra, cutting fruit from dark green plants that sag in the sun. The green beans have been on the vine too long, are tough and stringy. You gather them anyway.

You will eat what you can and freeze the rest. 

Your hands hurt from arthritis, but you get your tools and fix the old man’s lawnmower. And then, though you are sixty-two, you cut his grass. He offers you a beer, you accept.

Going to visit your daughter, the airplane is old, and exhaust leaks into the cabin. 

You cough blood flecks into your handkerchief. She bought you this ticket. You will not complain. 

From the air the world looks simple, though you know it is not. Every piece of green is private property. Every place filled with life. A river curls below you, looking lavender from above.

The city where your daughter lives is loud. It hurts your head, the smoke, the sound. You are unhappy. When you reach your daughter’s tiny apartment she makes you tea. You start to feel better.

Your daughter gives you her old laptop. Explains that you should tell your story.

You sit at her dining room table and open it. The machine is unfamiliar, uncomfortable. She opens the writing program, shows you how to move the mouse, to type and delete. 

You begin, writing—

The ship is old and leaks.