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Cage

Sara Michas-Martin
18 Snaps

On one side of the world two men argue
over the arrangement of sticks as they lay a fire

in the woods near the festival. Later, the fire
attracts many people who will shake to the sound

of hands slapping drums. On the other side, kids unpack
their water guns, their little sacks of flour

and build stupas out of sand in the river.
Not easy to stay outside yourself, to sit

in the hard dirt looking all around and be glad
for one thing. Watch a seated crowd

from a distance and notice how many people
touch their faces, or wave their arms

as if to form one animal stuck
on its back. It is tradition in places

once a year to purchase a tiny white bird
in a wire cage, only to walk a few feet

and release it. Perhaps I’d be less restless
if I could, periodically, let one thing go—

like a spider inside a suitcase, or the voice
of someone I despise. I could then smile truthfully

across a fire at someone with whom I may
never speak. If you and I ever meet, dear stranger

on a bumpy train, in a car where we
are forced to face each other and become anxious

enough to talk, let’s talk frankly
and about uncommon things.

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