In the poem "The Border: A Double Sonnet" by Alberto Ríos , the author presents his viewpoint about the border through a series of fragmented and opposing images that, for him, symbolize the imaginary and contradictory nature of the border. Ríos grew up in Nogales, an American town that lies...
In the poem "The Border: A Double Sonnet" by Alberto Ríos, the author presents his viewpoint about the border through a series of fragmented and opposing images that, for him, symbolize the imaginary and contradictory nature of the border. Ríos grew up in Nogales, an American town that lies on the border of the United States and Mexico. In an interview, he emphasized that he has grasped the complexity of the border from a young age:
The border for me has very little to do with the wall or a fence. The border is everywhere and in everything every step of the way in my life. My father was a very brown man. My mother was a very white woman. And right away, they embodied a border. And that we lived in a place that had a geographical marker called the border added to that.
In another interview, Ríos spoke of the differing motivations of the various people attempting to cross the border, which creates a charged political atmosphere.
We have conflated the criminal aspects of border—that is to say, crossing drugs, general criminal activity, the cartels, all that sort of stuff—with simple human migrations and with the bettering of a life and desperation, pure hunger and things that are attached to the human condition.
With these comments and Ríos's background in mind, we can better understand his comment in the poem that the border is "the act of a thousand imaginations." In other words, it means something different to each person. In his poem, Ríos presents twenty-eight different images of what the border might symbolize. These are all presented to point out that the border is not a real thing but an idea that is different in each person's mind.
Some of the images have to do with the ephemeral and unreal aspects of the border. For instance, the border appears as a line on a map, but when birds fly overhead they cannot see it, because it doesn't really exist; also the border, which is only an idea, cannot stop the wind. Other images deal with the political implications of the border. For example, it "has always been a welcome stopping place but is now a stop sign, always red." This refers to past US policy to welcome immigrants but more recent policy to keep them out. In a similar way, if you consider each of the lines, you will see other examples of the comparison of the border to human ideas or concepts.