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El Niño slips across latitudes, rises dripping from the ocean
From seafloor mud, El Niño brings up the secrets of childhood
El Niño crawls in the manger, time runs out
El Niño rocks himself dry on the edge of a continent
Prairies of wheat go unpollinated, there is rumor
El Niño is killing the honeybees

The water turns cold, La Niña follows her twin
Windowpanes darken, the weather channel shows us rain
Angels proclaim in vain above unseasonal cloud cover
La Niña lines up her hurricanes in alphabetical order
Floodwaters announce her coming The rich bribe airlines
while the poor push children into branches of trees

The Niños hear their names on the news in every language
The Niños bankrupt distant cities with mudslides
Comets snuff out in dirty skies Celebrities seduce us
away from the guides in our dreams Lovers of chaos,
computers roll back their zero eyes The trumpet cries
Los Niños in a loud voice Faces on billboards draw closer

La Niña, we pray, and El Niño, her brother
We long for sweetness and scale
Our tables sag under piles of unsorted papers
Spare us, Niños We don’t know winter from summer
Above the trade winds, ozone crackles
their answer: We have come for the children

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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