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"Captivity" by Carolyne Van Der Meer

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

I look at you, measuring whether I’m fearful

your dark eye darting your unease, wildness

here in this basement room

my refuge,

where you have flown,

alighting on books in silent rows

as you wait panicked for me to give you

your freedom.

Your wiry feet clasp the shelf’s edge as you

watch me, half scared, half

trusting. Your dark plumage accented

by white mottling, a reflection

or perhaps a flag of peace.

Are you from these parts

or of depths unknown, here

in the bowels of my home

to tell me that there are closed doors and hard panes

but there are always ways to open them.

No harbinger of death are you, no sign

of sudden mishap. Instead you signal

mere movement, up, down, away—

not of fancy, but of necessity. Let me do it

for you, I whisper, gently pulling the wire mesh,

flail my hands through the open space,

show you a path of flight, coo

coax you out. You turn, your neck moving

in truncated shifts, look at me one last time

and push off the row of Brontë classics—in an

instant, reach wingspan, gone

through the open window.


Carolyne Van Der Meer is Montreal-based journalist, public relations professional and university lecturer who has published articles, essays, short stories and poems internationally. Her fourth book, a full-length poetry collection, Sensorial, was published by Inanna in 2022.

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