A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
It must be assumed that the caretakers—
if that’s what they are called and not guards—
are kind. If not parents then parental
in appropriately incarcerative ways.
As for the toddlers and pre-toddlers:
how many days, weeks, or months must pass
before they understand no mother, no father,
will hold them soon, or possibly ever?
Does the crying of one set off
the crying of others? Does it stop
eventually? for good?
And the caretakers: what about them,
come home late at night.
And maybe before entering the house
their own children sleep in,
they sit on a plastic chair or a step,
on a porch or a patio,
on a driveway, a parched yard.
Perhaps they smoke a cigarette.
Who wouldn’t? Just sitting there,
after all, listening to the cries
of coyotes, listening.
On one side of the river,
on the other, uncertain
what country they are in.
Copyright 2019 Robert Wrigley
Robert Wrigley’s many books include Box (2017, Penguin). He teaches at the University of Idaho.