They Put Children In Cages, And What Do We Do? By Pat Hanahoe-Dosch

They Put Children In Cages, And What Do We Do?

In the sand, an empty plastic bottle,
a woman’s shoe, a child’s t-shirt.
Here blood is water.
The air is part sand and gasoline.

A two year-old curls into himself and cries,
alone for the first time,
a ten year-old huddles against the bars,
hungry, bruised, frightened of the man who
pokes him through the bars sometimes,
a twelve year-old girl huddles in the middle
of the cage, rocking back and forth,
hoping the man who keeps touching her
can’t reach her there, but he has the key
to the door and

Surely a sand storm will destroy it all
and free them.

Surely a plague of locusts will devour
the adults, the guns, the bars, the locks.

Surely the ghosts of all who didn’t quite make it
to the border will rise,
open the cages and lead the children away.

Surely the earth will split open, demons rise
from the depths to consume the adults with guns
and teach they are only blood and bone, too.

Surely, if we rise and rattle
we can ignite the air.

A four year-old lies on a sleeping bag
in the middle of a cage,
sucking her thumb. She can’t remember
what her parents look like.
She knows she has a mother,
somewhere, but not why
her mother isn’t there.

In the sand, footprints,
a shard of bone, a plastic doll’s head,
the abandoned skin of a snake,
smoke from a fire
somewhere on the horizon.

By Pat Hanahoe-Dosch


Pat Hanahoe-Dosch has an MFA from the University of Arizona. She is currently a Professor of English at a community college in Pennsylvania. Her poems have been published in Rattle, Paterson Literary Review, Confrontation, and many others. Her books, Fleeing Back and The Wrack Line, are available through FutureCycle Press ( or Amazon. See more of her work at

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