FENCES ARE NOT ALL THE SAME

Ann Jacob

The time of cow-parsley and daisy chalked banks –

High in a tree, a blackbird’s melodious call

sings freedom in the gold-warm sun, where dust motes dance

in hazy summer air and distant chickens cluck and drawl,

as pastured cows, with nourished, chestnut flanks,

browse rich green grass and slowly chew and laze –

with dark and melting eyes they gaze

to anywhere beyond the reach

of live protecting fence they know now not to breach.

Another time, another place –

birdsong above stark concrete space

from where, through high electric wires,

white faces pinned with huge dark eyes

stare hopelessly, by hunger carved;

huddled figures, gaunt and starved;

rough uniform striped prison wear

denies their humanhood; and where

they gaze through bleak imprisoning fence

to anywhere beyond, from whence

the blackbird’s song the only beauty brings,

they know they cannot have the freedom of its wings

nor breach live wires that corral them like cattle –

a charnel house awaiting their death rattle.

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