The world will soon break up into small colonies of the saved.
                —Robert Bly, “Those Being Eaten By America”

They begin taking children from their parents.
We already know the story it’s like.

You know the one. When there isn’t enough
food or safety, at night
a brother and sister, seized, get sent
to the woods. A swamp, the desert…

They might have stones
or crumbs in their pockets.
Sometimes they get bread. Sometimes
milk or berries.

The border marks a line
the way a strike of lightning
leaves one house standing
burns down the next.

For some children there’s nothing
but ashes and scraps.
That’s how much the border matters

when you reach the makeshift tables,
when you’re questioned in a language
you don’t understand,

when a witch squeezing a bony finger
figures out how to profit.

Terror begins a jangle of keys and belts.
The children go in cages.


Patricia Kilpatrick, “The Border” from Blood Moon. Copyright © 2020 by Patricia Kilpatrick. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Milkweed Editions,