for W. Shire

I didn’t float out to sea as a refugee
or search for my brothers
in a cloud of debris.
I’ll never know the thief with mayhem
shoved in his sack,
the bastard who takes what he wants
and leaves that which no one wants.

I’ll never speak the fires of everything lost.
I have no poem longing for
the remnants of my country. No words
sharp like morning machetes to the neck.
Not a single image born
of Red Cross camps,
a child’s grave,
or unspeakable mutilation.

But I’ve felt the punctures of a thousand thorns.
I’ve crawled under life’s fences
and over the heart’s borders enough
to know all skin is helpless and small.
Sometimes all I have is
the aching,
these empty arms, this one breath.
Sometimes all I am is
the hundred little girls inside
thirsting for less pain, a quick splash
of tenderness. I search the clouds
for a different amnesty
and interrogate God
like the child soldier
just following orders.

For both the refugee and me
there’s nothing left undamaged
but our song –
a twin flurry of desperation surrounded
by the silence of our worlds.

Candice is a passionate educator of 18 years. She earned her master’s degree in literature from Loyola Marymount. Primarily a poet, she has been published in Poet Lore, The Cortland Review, Hobart Pulp, Burningword, Wilderness House, Leveler, and Assaracus. Candice is also the author of a book exploring social media’s impact on adolescent identity. She writes fiction during her summers and breaks. She lives in Los Angeles where she happily cares for her three children and nine pets.