Where Are the Children- M. Soledad Caballero

Bone Breakers

The bones will rise, that is what Ezekiel says.
Grey and dusty, buried beneath the dirt, the sand,
the rocks and dry leaves. They have been there
for decades, have been like chalk, like old flour,
so thin, so empty of breath. These are the bones
to be lifted. They will have breath blown into them,
like a whirlwind of life. Skin will grow, thick muscle,
tendons, blood. Ezekiel says that all the parts will grow
like moss, like algae on the water. Spreading everywhere,
covering the skeletons of the dead with layers of
tissue and organs. In the story, this is the sign of God,
of promises made in the book of time when there were
old men who waited for signs in the sky and in the trees.
God signs, even after so many years as dirt.

In deserts and rivers, children, women, men have
stumbled across to find a promised a land. Trudged
thousands of miles carrying babies, carrying nightmares,
carrying life. Families climb, crawl, drag bones
that already have breath. Hearts that already beat.
They have breath. They are not silent. They are not dead.
They wish for lands of light. Families reach the borders.
Prophecies of hope. Children come to this place
of stone and grit and blood holding their father’s hand,
holding onto their sister’s hand, holding on, still
breathing, still alive in the midday sun.

We take them, their breath and love and hope, make
pulp of the hearts, the bones, the children.
We mark them with words of salt. We cage them
in frozen cement. We use night sticks. We use teeth.
We use bare hands. We are harbingers of dust
and wounds. We break bones. We are bone breakers.


I was in church when the rector was talking about the Ezekiel story that begins this poem and at the same time in yet another all too common pattern of our country, we were imprisoning children and their families at our borders. This story is not a new story for our country, but on this occasion, the idea of a god reanimating dead bones while the living were being tortured just struck me and that’s how the poem began. I attend church as an agonist resister. I’ve always struggle with the divine. Sometimes I hid the fact that I do go to church because it’s perceived by those around me as not “academic” or “progressive” enough. I imagine getting a lot of pushback about why I would even do this. Still, these are the kinds of insights that happen for me in that space. In this case, it was an occasion where I found the juxtaposition of a biblical story and reality aggressively clashing and I wanted to think about that in writing.


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