And well may the children weep before you!
They are weary ere they run;
They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory
much brighter than the sun.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 'The Cry of the Children'
Do you hear the children weeping?
On islands far off shore
we cannot see them, lest we see them
for who they truly are - mirrors
of humanity shared with all of us,
creatures as much deserving dignity
we demand, the care and kindness shown
in ready giving to our own kin and kind.
Do you feel the children reaching
heavenward for God? Though the evidence
for God is fading under concrete,
wire, and bars.
They cling to stories
almost forgotten, songs they know not how to sing
in this strange land of mere existence,
death a hope more promising than life.
Do you know the children, crying,
as you yourself have done? Long
forgotten tears of separation from your mother,
Though you yourself
have never thrown your lot into a boat
of 'illegality', braved the ocean's roar
and fight in flight toward the freedom
of streets that will not explode beneath your feet.
Do you fear the children, calling
for your attention, welcome, love?
Will it challenge your assumptions, or your comfort
far too much?
Can you imagine another running, from a new home
you thought was safe: running, hiding, for
your mates were stolen in the brightness
of the day?
This did not happen far away,
but here, among us, and in our name:
we are frightening children and each other,
causing God to weep in shame.
Do you hear the children crying?
Listen. Let them weep.
Join your tears beside them, for they cry
for you, for your humanity,
into the deep.
Can we retrieve it? Will we heal
the broken bonds between us, the soul
of all of us?
Will we heed the children, crying
for their freedom, and the freedom
of us all?
© Sarah Agnew