the shackles of freedom

I’ve heard them talk of the East where the
giant green woman stands proud
welcoming passengers with open arms

the only open arms here are those
ready to usher us into cells,
iron cages where we will rust under bright lights

I enter the station where the people crowd,
schools of fish pulsing in swarms, like the ones we eat at home
I stand with shaky legs near those who sound like me, on the edges

I am shoved along with rough hands,
someone from home tells me to write in a bone-colored book,
my name looks like a skeleton

they lead us in solitude, one at a time,
through blank hallways, empty white-washed walls
their black uniforms like oil clouding the sea

I cannot follow the American’s steps,
I do not walk as fast as he does, or how sure,
I do not have the right shoes—mine are too scuffed, too grey.

I do not always know what he tells me, at home I know what to say,
but here every word sounds like a question.

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