“Stamp Collection” by Miguel Barretto Garcia

Miguel Barretto Garcia


I dream to stamp collect.
I lick the back of every stamp

like Mama kissing her lucky
charm, while raising my arms

in surrender, like the back of
a stamp had a tongue from

a gun licking it. I taste salt
wetting behind the back of

my neck, on the day I face
God on the other side of

the looking glass. The Consular
Officer is a God who holds

my fate. They hold my future
like a stamp collector would

inspect my stamp for every
detail and blemish, like my

past body defumigated for
lice at the border in Juárez,

like my body in the future will
be stripped by the TSA Officer

upon arrival at JFK. I stand
before my random God to

read my verdict, hoping for
my stamp to grant me passage

like the coin on my mouth
while I pass through the Rio

Grande, hoping I have enough
stamps for a dress to my love

letter and future self. I hope.
My stamp is a little bottle of

hope floating on an unknown
Atlantic. My body is floating

behind the looking glass.
The Consular Officer looked

at my face like a city fading
back into ash. I look back

at the Arrival Gate behind
me, hoping my present body

won’t loosen into a column
of salt. My stamp collection

is found on every page of my
passport. My stamp is a child

floating along my Little Nile,
dreaming of stamping my feet

on Harvard ground, dreaming
of stamps on my diploma.

I look back to lick the back
of the stamp like a kiss from

a child to their mother. My
Mama also had dreams like me,

but instead of stamps, Mama
collected visa fees in her bottle.

from Poets Respond
July 14, 2020


Miguel Barretto Garcia: “As an international student, it was depressing to hear ICE’s announcement of clipping F-1 and M-1 student visas on international students if their universities would decide to hold only online classes. More than a million students, mostly from developing countries, worked hard in their home countries to have a shot of, not necessarily the American Dream, but a life where they can fully realize their potentials and possibilities. Among those possibilities is researching and developing vaccines to treat COVID-19.”

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