Illustration by Allegra Lockstadt.

My mother has two wishes, and they are at odds: she wants to return to Ecuador to see her parents, but she also wants to be able to travel back safely to the United States. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve watched her desperation grow. Trump’s presidency has added to her worries. She’s afraid of being deported, of being torn away from my sister and me. My parents have sent me to Ecuador, and I’ve tried explaining to them the smell of the wood burning during the warm afternoons. But, my mother can no longer recall the smells of her childhood or the names of the streets where she grew up. The nostalgia that she’s bottled up from her childhood only consists of her dad’s towerlike stature, his warm laugh and calloused hands. She holds onto those memories, but the clock is ticking and her parents are growing older; if she ever returns to Ecuador, she may be too late. Communicating only through a cell phone is not enough—especially with your parents, and especially when you haven’t seen them in over 20 years. That’s why I wrote these poems from her point-of-view: I wrote them for her.