The first time a mouse enters a cage,
it is pink and shriveled, eyes shut against
It learns to speak the language of captivity:
miniature prayers, switchblades,
the evaporation of nameless skeletons.
From ink comes stardust and
the knowledge of birds
spiraling through the ozone layer,
wingspan intersected by ivory branches.
Cagelife is this:
reduced, distilled, everything spilled
bone-white and left wanting.
Cagelife kneels before
the dead and begs forgiveness.
Run, little mouse,
until water sweetens your lips
and the streets aren’t gold anymore.
See how the night
blue-rinses your cage,
wringing out the golden bars until they lie dripping at your feet.
Weep for the old mouse as it is peeled off the floor,
hiding its whiskers from the light.
It is here
because it has never stopped running.
By Nandita Naik
Nandita Naik is a junior at Proof School in San Francisco. She enjoys writing, programming, and musicals. Her poems have been published or forthcoming in Canvas Lit Journal and Polyphony HS.