Small Hands and Loud Cries

by Valentine Gonzales


It is never silent in the small rooms
There is always crying
And praying
And the soft voices asking when mama will be back
The soft voices trying to hold each other because universe knows aluminum foil can’t
Hope that tomorrow papa will free them
Hope that abuelita can give kisses again to soft cheeks
And it is always a wonder
how officers never get sick at the stomach hearing llantos
A wonder how their ears have not bled as revenge for causing small throats to grow deserts
How they hear sand cracking
de las voces de los niños as they plead again and again
But then again
It must be the ice that have turned them numb at heart
Their mouths must feel like sharp metal
Sharp metal like barb wires
Sharp enough to carve tongues into handcuffs
Stained red on small wrists
Belonging to an even smaller child
With a big dream to go home again
To turn foil into bed again
Brick wall into sunsets and the smell of food again
But no
Small children stay here in small cages
In even smaller beds
And the air
It must be suffocating right now
Bonded tight as reminder that even oxygen is not theirs anymore
It too has become captured
Seperated from lungs like fractured bones
íslands drifting apart
Slow enough to make the world uncomfortable
Uncomfortable enough to hide it
Until world realizes this is a zoo now
Come make lines
Watch as these children sit and stare
Look at how lost they are
They are an island drifting further away
And please, sign the papers
If you’re lucky, we will give you a free child
One whose parents are waiting in a cell of their own
And maybe, if you keep the child long enough
Their memory will fade away
Like water on burning ground
Or america, cleaning red hands and red stains to look like hero again
Maybe, if you keep the child long enough
They will forget about all this
Their culture too
Forget they had parents who looked like soil
That their tongue was not born in the shape of a handcuff
But of chile
Of food and ribbons
Twisting itself into songs about their love
And they say spanish is a romantic language
But now it feels more like a target
A fire that needs to be put out
Put out like sweet laughter a mother in a crowded cell can wish to hear again
Put out until laughter becomes echo
Auditory evidence that once hope used to live here
But it soon died
Reincarnated to something loud and tragic
Because it can never be silent in those small rooms
With even smaller children


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