I wrote this poem in 2004. The issue remains the same. It’s not enough to pray for girls and boys being bought and sold. Let’s all answer their call for help.
Prayer for Unnatural Wenches
Her cell of sex traffickers offered three age ranges of sex
partners—toddler to age 4, 5 to 12 and teens—as well as
what she called a “damage group.” ”In the damage group
they can hit you or do anything they wanted.”
—Peter Landesman, “The Girls Next Door,” The New York Times
Screek of wrenches—hammers
pounding through the wall that
powders the plaster so I’m
asink in it, can’t think.
Wait. It’s stopped. I quake
to kneel (this cell not dark)
afraid: To desiccate—devolve—age.
Refuse to leave youth’s domain.
(Remember yourself, 16, repelled a
20-year-old, “Too old!”)
Now the 5-year-old
no longer cares to hear
how he became a fish
that leapt to be a
toad, flew up to turn
a bird to meet—faraway—
his friend. Pillowed, he’ll still
allow you to recount such
tales. (When did he begin
imagining the story soothes the
teller’s drowsy ears, not just
his own?) Hammering thwacks in
again; faucets shiver and ping.
You’re undone by renovations of
the room or soul. And
for your Buddhist husband? Arriving
means leaving every thing alone.
How not to straighten up
the mess of minutes that
proclaim, Protect! Defend! Repair! While
Catholics ash their foreheads and
Jews eat the bread of affliction
and Buddhists face the wall,
children are black-marketed
round the globe for wenching.
Is a martyr one no
body hears? A child is
not to wrench or sell.
O domains invaded. Depredated. Despoiled.
I pray for my son
no priest no rabbi no
passerby inflict age-lust upon him.
And for those girls promised
lives in America, now chained
to beds: childhood’s unbreached wall.
But how can it be enough
to pray for them?