Frontier by Kira Tucker

This bill provides certain aliens with a path to receive permanent resident status and
contains other immigration-related provisions.
                                                    —H.R.6, American Dream and Promise Act of 2021

The year NASA found enough ice on Mars to flood
Lake Michigan twice, Congress first voted to form
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Ice
on Mars, many suspected, would foster alien
life—7 minutes of terror is what experts call
the span of perilous navigation it took to land

NASA’s latest rover on Mars, Perseverance. I land
on so many space sites before I learn about a flood
of fake immigrant crime reports in 2017. One call
alerted the VOICE hotline extraterrestrial life forms
had crashed UFOs into an Iowa water tower—alien
prank dialers jammed phone lines after hearing ICE

had caged kids. When NASA tried to get ahold of ice,
they sent rovers probing, as if for diamonds, or land
mines. For a border where one life is seized as a lien
on another, even a dial tone is recourse. When it floods,
the Gulf runs north and mud-green like a patrol uniform.
A lone, neon martian guards a desert route some call

Nevada’s ET Highway; it borders Area 51. I can recall
tweets on foreign life detained there, then raids. ICE
jails got stormed like the air base, after nurses inform-
ed news outlets about women seeking a promised land
getting a uterus stolen instead, the womb’s final flood.
A tab over, I read that few sleep at the Little A’Le’Inn

for over a night. Americans avoid the constraint alien
to so free a nation. Marïka is what Paiute elders called
that first storm of strangers and horses. In such a flood
of dust, even invaders can resemble kin—like black ice,
that tan christening their skin was only one layer. Land
fever is a metaphor for how settlers’ greed takes form.

Agents call the drone Ingenuity and those with no form
of asylum illegal. A repeated word starts to sound alien
in the mouth: illegal, illegal. It loses its meaning, like land-
marks still named for tribes who “vanished.” No role call
can recover the hundreds of children lost by ICE
or swept under the surges of a Rio Grande flood.

In childhood, I dreamt of an alien ship, its icy flood beam lifting me
to a land of no return. Sci-fi informing my eye, I was always already
a product of abduction. Call me, calling all this what it is, American.

Kira Tucker is an artist from Memphis, Tennessee and a current MFA+MA candidate in poetry at Northwestern University. Kira’s work appears in Tupelo QuarterlyThe Spectacle, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the Hurston/Wright Foundation and Tin House.