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What It Is

— Sarah Burke

For the asylum seekers.
For their children.

Don’t call it separation.
Not yolk cradled in sling of shell

as liquid slips away. Not stone
divided from lentil, ripe nectarine

sliding from pit, splinter
lifted from finger. Not the infant

exiting the body, slick with blood,
delivered across that ancient

border. Not the river of milk
leaving the breast, but the child’s mouth

torn from the river. Call it what it is.
Amputation. Dismemberment. Call it

the willful shattering of a dish—its surface
once whole and flawed as the moon,

shaped with tenderness, with care.
Call it rending. Even—if ever—

rejoined, the fragments
will remember

that shock, will hear that sound,
will retain those rifts in the clay.


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