November 6, 2019KR OnlinePoetry

Why Cages

So we can peer in. So a creature
        can’t hide. Zoos keep jaguars in 9-gauge
chain-link pens. Wild, these cats
        race across grasslands faster than a cyclist
with the Tour de France. Parrots
        fly a hundred miles a day, but caged,
they’ll bite their feet, bellies, till
        they bleed. “Zoochosis”: psychosis caused
by confinement. Our ancestors
        lived in caves, but that’s not the same as
being locked up. “Give me land,
        lots of land, under starry skies above, don’t
fence me in,” sang Bing Crosby
        in 1943. How much open space do we
humans need? A student of mine
        signed up with a college group volunteering
to be jailed for        a week. She said
        before long, they all began sobbing, raging,
and none of them were even
        confined in solitary. I’ve never stepped inside
a prison. But I’ve been kept
        alone in a medical ward, electrodes taped
across my body, one small
        window for interns to peer in at me, a loud-
speaker over my head, a voice
        booming in at random moments. I seldom
scream, but I did, again and again.