Amnesty International has confirmed that since 1992 the number of murdered women and girls from and around Ciudad Juárez is 475, and it believes over 5,000 women and girls have disappeared.
– Barbara Martinez Jittner, independent film-maker


On this eve of the dead, I cry out loud,
“por favor Virgen de Guadalupe, don’t
forsake me,” before I open the door,
before I see la policía flat
black eyes, before his mouth opens to tell
me, my Solana, m’hija, is dead.

Our women and girls are vanishing from
Ciudad Juárez. Mi casa. All he brings
is a box with two leg bones; “Proof,” he says.
¡Ha! I’ve seen death; I know bones.
I cross myself, speak a mamá’s clear truth:

“On m’hija’s First Holy Communion,
She broke her right leg in two places.
These bones, two left leg bones, are not Solana’s.”


“These bones, two left leg bones, are not Solana’s.”
mama says, before closing the door. She passes
my bedroom. I am here, but we did not
have my party, mi quinceñeara.
I’m fifteen today, a woman.

Alva, mi
amiga, heard yesterday that a girl
from Colonia Paz, never came home from her job.
Twice a day, I pray, Virgen de Guadalupe
save me from factory work in Ciudad Juárez;

Two weeks in this silent room, watching Pretty
Boy, parakeet of mi hermana, pace his perch. The last
three days his water cup has remained full.
Today, I found him on the cage floor.
Today, I stopped waiting for Solana.


Today, I stopped waiting for Solana
to appear at the bus stop de la maquila.
For two weeks,
I’ve waited for her smile.
At our work stations, las chicas and I whisper

the names of la muerta between thin lips.
We sew capris, daily quotas for a big store
across la forntera.
We asked the Bosses
for parking lot lights, guard posts. They gave us
whistles, self-defense talks.
We asked la policía
to protect us; they do not listen. El Diablo
and las policías, one and the same.

Las chicas y yo work insilences.
We need our jobs. We have familias.
The Bosses say, “Women can be replaced.”


Bosses Say, Women Can Be Replaced—
AP Wire. NAFTA’s enactment
has allowed foreign-owned factories
to cash in on low-cost labor, easy access
to U.S. markets. But at maquiladoras,
assembly plants, women bank no bargains;
their week lasts sixty to seventy hours;
wages $5.75 a day [milk costs $2.50
a gallon]; pregnant women are denied jobs
or fired; workers are attacked for drawing
attention to callous working conditions.
After shift changes gates are locked, and workers
turned away if three minutes late. Forced
to return home alone, often in the dark.


I return home, alone, to darkness and
silence, after reconstructing remains
of Jurárez’s unidentified dead
women. Every night my home, like the white,
sterile Chihuahua State Forensic morgue,
fills with bodies, parts: acid etched skin; breasts,
slashed, stabbed, gnawed; raped vaginas; heads leaking

from gun shot wounds. These girls have long hair, brown
complexions. They are young. Someone’s child.
My child. She lived for seventeen years in this house.
If Paloma’s case, caso de m’hija
isn’t solved, I’ll join other mothers, plant pink/
black crosses outside state police offices. Our
united voices speak louder than one tongue.


United voices speak louder than one tongue;
we paint black and pink crosses, march thestreets
saying names of three hundred and twenty ninas
y mujeres raped, mutilated, matadas
“Laura Ramos Monarrez, Lourdes Lucero
Campos, Sagrario Gonzalez Flores,
Paloma Villa Rodriguez, Guadalupe
Estrada Salas, Solana Sanchez Cruz . . .”
our hijas y hermanas.
Las policías
say prostitutes, mujeres del fugitivos:
we know el secreto pile of bones; missing
files; a woman’s body clothed in another
woman’s dress; evidencia destruida
five hundred kilos of clothing burned last week.


I boxed a hundred pounds of clothing today;
cleared closets of capris, tee-shirts; threw
away Halloween bag of Brach’s candy corn;
a label funeral for Made in Mexico.

My protest, against NAFTA, the Mexican
Government, the Juárez police, makes me
a world citizen; makes me read today’s newspaper:
“Six Peoria Black Women Murdered, Bodies
Found Over Last Three Years in Rural Countryside.”
I read their names: Brenda Erving, Frederickia Brown,
Linda Neal, Barbara Williams, Sabrina Payne, Wanda
Jackson. Paper says “prostitutes, addicts.” Turn page,

“Four Peoria Black Women Still Missing.”
On this eve of the dead, I cry out, loud.

Demetrice Anntía Worley's poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Reverie, Permafrost, Spoon River Poetry Review (where she was a finalist for the 2002 Editor's Prize), and Clackamas Literary Review. She is co-editor of Language and Image in Reading-Writing Classroom: Teaching Vision (LEA); African-American Literature: An Anthology, 2nd edition (McGraw-Hill); and Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle...And Other Modern Verse, 2nd edition (ScottForesman). Currently, she is an associate professor at Bradley University and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.

Get more news like this, directly in your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter.