“Between Us and It” by Mather Schneider

Mather Schneider


I’m a white American and she’s Mexican
but we’re trying to make it work.
We’ve moved in together.
There’s a dumpster outside our bedroom window
15 feet away,
a cement block wall
between us and it,
a gray cement block wall that’s full of air
and means nothing.
The dumpster belongs to the other apartment building,
the last of the expensive white ones
before it turns Mexican.
At night me and my girlfriend
are frightened by people
throwing things into the dumpster.
The noises are sudden and vicious, like thunder
or war, as if they are so proud,
as if it was the surest thing in the world
to be throwing away a microwave at midnight.
Later in the night we hear the Mexicans
taking things out of the dumpsters
to fix and resell.
The nights are hot in the desert in the summer
and in our sweaty sleep
the blanket on the bed gets pushed
and mashed together
between us.
We call it “the border.”
Even on the hottest nights we can’t
toss it away.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009


Mather Schneider: “Like much of my poetry, this poem is 90% true. One very hot night me and my girlfriend, who is an illegal immigrant from Hermosillo, Mexico, were in bed pushing the blanket onto each other and back again, and it settled in the middle. She called it ‘The Border’ and I laughed. I knew there was a poem there. Then the image of the wall, dumpster, and connection to the other wall on the border of Mexico and the United States all came together with the idea of walls or borders between people themselves.”

Rattle Logo