Alongside all my other thoughts and feelings about all of the things I’m doing, all the things that are happening to and around me, I also have a thought about tenderness, a question about tenderness. It’s been like a friend I used to spend a lot of time with but don’t see much anymore but still think about a lot. What would so-and-so think about all this? What is tender here, in me, or outside me?

charles boardman

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Googling the workers at a local tender age facility


I recently spent an hour looking at the Facebook pages

of the people who work at the Morrison Child and

Family Services Center, where, in Portland, immigrant

children separated from their families are held.  I wondered,

who does this work?  Who does this work every day?  One

supervisor, named Alejandro, is in charge of the displaced

child program, and he really likes pet fish and craft beer and

Game of Thrones and last year re-posted a helpful decision map

for DACA recipients who might be confused and scared in

this new era.  And last August, he really hoped to win a free

Glock, which you’d win by sharing the free Glock contest

image (I’m guessing from the lack of comments and

likes that he never did end up winning that Glock).   And,

here we are, I thought.  Here we all are.  This full

human man, whom I hoped to hate, whom I hoped to

judge, whom I planned to screencap and dox, is as abundant

and aimless as a hotel bed.  Pet fish!  He likes pet fish!  Fish

who were born in captivity and die in captivity, wildly-

tinted silver and chartreuse and white fish, with those long

festive tails that hang for a half-moment, after the fish itself

has started out on one of its hopeful circuits around

the water it never finds the edges of, and then, like the

afterthought to a thought that never ended because

it couldn’t begin, catch up in an elegant little snap.


Did he ever decide to enliven the kids' environs with

a fish tank of their own, so that inside their box they

might watch other brilliant beings in a smaller box?  I imagine

large, soft Alejandro, in a broad, checked neck-tie like the one he

wears in his staff photo, enjoining the stunned, unrooted children to

gaze and wonder at the angel and clown and devil fish, saying this is how

you feed them, saying this is how you change the filter so they can breathe,

saying look at their little castle, saying please don’t tap the glass because

not only does it startle them, it reminds them that it’s there.




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