Cage

In a world of loss
     gratitude is what 
          I demand for keeping 
     precious catch
within my reach.
     No one despises 
          the shepherd for
     collecting his flock. 
No one accuses 
     the watchman of 
          making a captive 
     of his charge.
I’m like a holster, 
     or sheath, all function 
          and no fury. Don’t 
     you worry as I 
swallow you whole. Those 
     ulcers in my gut 
          are only windows,
     the stoma punched 
in my throat is just 
     a keyhole. Don’t be shy.
          Hand me the rattle 
     of your aching heart
 and I’ll cradle you, 
     bird with broken wing. 
          Let me love you. I
     will hold your brittle 
bones together. I’ll 
     unclasp your beak
         so you can sing.
     It’s a world of always 
leaving but here
     you can always stay.

This is the closest I could get to the stark reality of children separated from their families and kept in cages. I tried other ways into the subject, but it always rang false, especially the versions I tried writing in the point of view of a child. I realized that these children have their own voices. But we are not listening. So I wrote a persona poem in which the villain tries to obscure the travesty of incarceration of minors with seductive, gas-lighting language.

—Rigoberto González

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