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Wednesday, June 20, 2018


by Janet Leahy

'Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas, The Associated Press has learned. Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis.' —The Guardian, June 20, 2018

In the detention center
there are no lullabies for the eight-month-old infant,
for the two-year-old  girl, for the young boy
calling out for his Papa, his Mama,
for the child who has memorized
his auntie’s phone number, and pleads
to call her, so she can come and take him home.
No one sings behind the chain-link fence,   
no one reads “Good Night Moon,”
or hugs a child as darkness settles,
but in detention, darkness never settles,
lights stay on all night . . .
No one cradles a crying infant.
No one recites “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”
still they wonder where . . . the lost parents are.
There are no groups singing rounds
of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,”
children remember crossing the Rio Grande
in a boat too crowded, too cold, too wet.
No one intones “Are You Sleeping, Are You Sleeping”
because all one can hear is children weeping.
No one sings “Hush Little Baby,” yet little babies
do not hush, without a mother or father near.
All the while the king is in his counting house
counting out his money, the queen is in the parlour
eating bread and honey.
And the lullabies
fall silent.

Janet Leahy is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Her ekphrastic poems have appeared in several art exhibits throughout the state. Her work has been published in the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, Midwest Prairie Review, in many anthologies, literary journals and online at My Daily Poem, TheNewVerse.News, and Blue Heron. She has published two collections of poetry. She enjoys working with a host of poets in the  Milwaukee-Waukesha area.