Where Are the Children-Noriko Nakada


A child in a cage
the age of my own
than my father was
when he was held
behind barbed wire
in the dust of a desert.

That prison was different
than this cage
on a concrete floor
in a cold room
but the barbed wire
is the same
and so is
the desert.

People like to compare
these situations
but forget this question:
Question. What is the difference between these two children being held?
Answer. Their proximity to their mother.


I wrote this poem as I watched news updates of the crisis at our southern border, parented my own young children, and worked on a novel about the Japanese Internment. I was thinking a great deal about my father’s time as a young boy in internment camp and how intergenerational trauma keeps his experience with me. As I worked on this novel and glanced at news reports I made myself keep looking. We have to grapple with the trauma these families are enduring today and cannot remain silent. As Zora Neale Hurston says, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

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