(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