Right to Life

The size of what is happening now along the border — families wrenched apart because we have decided it should happen that way — brings to mind this poem by Jane Hirshfield.

Global Warming
Jane Hirshfield, 1953
When his ship first came to Australia,
Cook wrote, the natives
continued fishing, without looking up.
Unable, it seems, to fear what was too large to be comprehended.

I add, to put impossible words to the impossible weight of this all-too-possible nightmare.
I have been unjustly detained. I have felt my own version of this nightmare. I remember — but I’m an adult and paid for therapy and worked hard to regain my footing. What, what, what of these children? What are we creating? When did we become gods?
Right to Life
This thing, this punishing dominion we call
Over mothers and fathers who arrive at our door
Unbidden, yes — yet who among us
Has never asked for mercy?
This thing, this thing too large to comprehend
That we capture children…
Who were pushed from their mother’s womb
(just as we)
Who drank from their mother’s breast
(just as we)
Who hung from their father’s finger
(just as we)
And who now know no comfort
(as we should also not know)
For what right can we possibly have
To decide, to declare
That families be dissolved,
Broken, that children
— children —
Innocent boys and girls whose biggest sin
Was throwing sand at the dog
Should be punished with a strange bed
And the absence of the familiar.
And no daytime to call end to their nightmare.
Who among us has not feared the dark and unknown?
When did we become gods?
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