One of the most widely acclaimed poets in the United States, as a child who grew up in El Paso, a city on the border of Texas and Mexico, Pat Mora often writes about what touches her heart the most: borders, whether they be physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or cultural. Indeed, Mora communicates in her poetry that it is the unseen borders which are the hardest to cross.
In "Immigrant," the parents hope that by providing all the external markings ("mashed hot dogs and apple pie," names, dolls, etc.) of an American child to theirs, the child somehow will become a "fine American boy" or "a fine American girl" and, then, be liked and accepted. But, in the dark, in the hidden room of their hearts, they fear that the unseen borders of culture and race as well as their own conceptual borders, will prevent acceptance.
...speak to them in thick English
,,,whisper in Spanish or Polish
when the babies sleep, whisper
in a dark parent bed, that dark
parent fear. Will they like
our boy, our girl, our fine American....
This nervous fear that the parents feel is conveyed, not only in the words of the poem ("in a dark parent bed...parent fear"), but also with enjambment in the lines of the poem. Thus, the fear, too, crosses a border as its expression in words builds a momentum that carries it to the next line, producing a deliberate effect that underpins the theme. Certainly, in "Immigrant" the theme of borders is effective as it works its way through Mora's poem from the physical to the verbal, and, finally, the imaginary.