Now that the diplomats have all been fired from their posts, what is the meaning of visa?

I know, I know, now you can
apply online through most
countries’ designated

immigration portals— check
eligibility, check the boxes,
fill out the forms, file the fees.

It’s just that I remember the days
when you had to line up hours
before dawn on the sidewalk:

swat at mosquitoes, pinch
your nose against the smell
of urine wafting from the bushes

every time a hot wind blew in
from the bay. When the interview
windows opened at 8 am, it felt

like waiting for a turn at live
lotto. Never mind that you had
all your paperwork neatly

paper-clipped in a folder
along with your fee receipts.
What would the embassy official

stamp on your form? You prayed
for a different fate from the man
given Application Denied: begging

before the window, knowing
this would be his last hope
to see his dying mother

in that other land. At least then,
there might have been a chance
to see what kinds of faces

they wore. Whether there was
something in them that might
be moved by the human.

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