My name is Maria

I am nine years old

I lived in El Salvador

with my mami and my papi

I loved them very much


Bad people killed my papi

My mami was afraid all the time

She said we had to leave

to go away from that special place

that we called home

We had to leave my friends

and my abuela

had to leave the beautiful flowers

that climbed up the side of our house

I did not want to go

My mami said

we had no choice


She told me there was a place

a wonderful place

far from where we lived

a place called the United States

I had heard of it in school

It was a place where people

did not have to be afraid

where people like us

could find a better life


We said goodbye to all we knew

I hated the day that we left

I have cried so many tears

that I sometimes think I have no tears left

We walked such a long way

I was hungry

We had to sleep on the hard ground

but always my mami stayed by me

She held me in her arms


she cried too


We still had great hopes

With many other people

we crossed a big river

asked for help

People in uniforms

put us in their cars

took us to a big building


Before long

they took me away from my mami

She screamed and held onto me

but they pried her arms away and took me


I don’t know where she is

I stand in a room full of other children

It doesn’t smell very good here

and many are wailing


Someone handed me a little baby

told me to care for it

The baby is dirty

but there is no water to wash

either him or myself

I don’t’ know how to take care of a baby

but I hold him in my arms

try to rock away his tears


My body shivers

It is so cold in here

I have nothing to keep me warm

My mouth feels bad

I haven’t been able to brush my teeth

since I came here

and bad tastes bubble up into my mouth

from my empty stomach


I don’t know what is going to happen to me

Sometimes I think

I just want to die

I am so afraid

I want my mami to put her arm around me

to wipe away the tears that streak my dirty face

I want to take a shower

I want to eat some of my abuela’s puposas

I want to be warm again

I want to sleep in a real bed


I was taught to pray

and I wonder if anyone listens

If you can hear me, God,


help me

help all of the children

help my mami


Please … Please…


© Mina V. Kirby, 6/23/2019


I was asked if Maria, the girl in the story above, is real. Here is my reply. Yes, she is real. Her name is perhaps not Maria. She might be ten years old or even seven or eight. She might be from Guatemala or Honduras. She might even be a boy and not a girl. But she is real. She is truly real, and she is at this moment, through no fault of hers or her parents’, being detained against her will in a crowded, dirty facility somewhere in the United States of America. In the Land of the Free…

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  1. I am so furious and upset over what’s being done to these children. This government is stealing them out of their parents’ arms! I have questions, but no one to ask. Questions like What is the endgame plan for these children, since they likely cannot be reunited with their families? What will happen to them? Who will take care of them? Or are they going to be left in those dog cages until they die?!

    • This is a shameful chapter in American history. This is even worse than the incarceration of the Japanese during WWII. At least there, families were together. The children weren’t wrenched away from them and left to fend for themselves, filthy, cold and unattended.

  2. My God, how could this have happened in our country. I know, I know “how it happened.” But is this a true reflection of our country? No one, Democrat or Republican, has the backbone to get Trump out of White House. They issue subpoenas, hold them in contempt, and then what? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No one is jailed. Damn it, put them in jail. I seems I am crying every day for these children and I know it’s piddling compared to what they are enduring. Elizabeth Warren and other legislative members go to border to check out what’s happening and are refused entry. Can’t the US Marshall get the doors open? Just because the guards say “no entrance”, it’s doesn’t make it so. Would someone please step up and stop this nightmare.

  3. I totally believe this story. This is a small part of why I am so horrified at what’s going on with incoming refugees. Minor detail though, (I used to work with a lot of Salvadorans) it’s pupusa, and she would have to be from El Salvador, because that’s where pupusas are from. Although I hear that they have them in Honduras now too.

    • Oops…I didn’t check the spelling. She is from El Salvador. I used the word because I am writing a book about someone from there.


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