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Ann Fisher-Wirth Addresses Family Separation In “Prayer”


(by BEI Fellow Ann Fisher-Wirth; published in Vox Populi on June 19, 2018)


Let the mothers rush toward their babies

and wrap their arms around them tight enough

to hold back even the sea if it would harm them.


Let the anguish melt from the fathers’ eyes.

This summer, the birds are going crazy with melody

in the jungle of wisteria and privet


that shelters my house, and at dawn the air

is fresh—there is sweetness in my life—

But at the border the children are kept in cages.


One Christmas Eve when our five were small

they asked to sleep on pallets so they could

be near the tree, these children of divorce


who came and went, who were apart from me

for months at a time. I sneaked into the room

just to be near the beloved tumble of arms


and legs, just to hear them breathe. That

bodily adoration. One whispered in her sleep,

one held her brother’s toe, and the tree


with its shadowy packages loomed over them

in the dark, lit by a slant of light through the door.

When I first learned about war I would


lie in bed brute with horror that a man

could tear a baby from its mother’s arms.

That a man could choose to tear a baby


from its mother’s arms.

So we see it now, each day,

on the news of the children in cages.


Copyright 2018 Ann Fisher-Wirth

Photo: U.S. Border Patrol facility in Texas housing hundreds of children in cages