Even in the womb, he turned
and turned, seeking always a light, a way
to burrow. He came weeks too soon,
feet first. Before he could walk,
he was rolling away. Early, she learned
the smallest playground, the one
with the latch and tall fence
was the only safe place
to play, having lost sight of him
too many times, his small body twisting
as he ran further and further away.
The high walls, the barbed-wire
fences; they kept showing up
in the patchwork squares of her dreams.
His father was another reason to run:
the broken glass, the piss-poverty.
When he could get them, he read
book after book, mostly about those
who set themselves free. Even then he knew
the greatest must first be confined,
so he sought out lock and key. He wasn’t bad.
He was just searching, and the bottles,
the pills, they were only part of the game,
another hatch to pry open. Tonight,
she thinks about the word corazón,
how it feels like the hinges
of a condor’s wings opening,
her fledgling shot into the dark.
She’s known about this night
for years, seen it in so many dreams.
She switches off the television,
goes back to worrying the beads
between her fingers, all night
the searchlights flaring
and flaring the sign of the cross.
Jackleen Holton’s poems have been published in the anthologies The Giant Book of Poetry, California Fire & Water: A Climate Crisis Anthology, and Steve Kowit: This Unspeakably Marvelous Life. Honors include Bellingham Review’s 49th Parallel Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Dogwood, Poet Lore, Rattle, RHINO Poetry, Salamander, and others.