A First Visit


by Amanda
It was the end of the line, a huge expanse of gravel. Vehicles lined up one after the other like a shopping mall. Like a deep dark secret hidden behind back roads in the heat of Central California.
What must we look like from up above? A Navy base in the shape of a swastika in bird?s eye view? The immensity of the cages following each other up across the state like connect the dots? Tell me what image appears.
I can tell you what image appears. It is a locked door in front of you and behind you, and you, left wondering who you are, whom they are trying to keep in, whom they are trying to keep out.
I can tell you what image appears but it is more about what I hear. Injustice has never been as loud as the gates, as quiet as the tears of a woman inside.
It had always been the fences that were the worst part. In California, for me, I found it was all the fences I couldn?t see, the immensity of the land and the number of people on it.
My first visit to CCWF was not about the last names they shouted across the room but the stories piled on each other, peeling away and closing up again. It wasn?t what they told us we couldn?t bring in, but what I brought out with me inside, and what I carry today that adds weight to each step and hope and heaviness. It wasn?t they, but us, and this coalition we have together, and the strength and beauty I found inside, bursting like berries off the vine, bitter and full.
Afterwards, I peel carrots and watch closely over the garbage can. Though just my fingers, it is important to keep myself intact. One slip, and I fear I?d fall apart. But I ? I got to go home.