Friday, August 19, 2011


I heard there was a fat skunk, all white,
who waddled in the yard followed by two kits
the men called babies.
I heard about a pair of chipmunks and raccoons
that hung around the kitchen.
A hummingbird appeared one morning,
a gray-tailed hawk at noon,
and at night, feeding on mosquitoes, bats carved
dark curves in the darker sky.

In the concrete room without windows
where we held class, I was impressed the men all knew
each bird and animal the others mentioned.
They could pinpoint their location
in the prison they inhabited.

About Sara Backer:
Sara Backer is the author of the novel American Fuji. She has poems forthcoming in Sleet Magazine, The Aurorean, and San Pedro River Review.


  1. What a sad, haunting, yet hopeful conjunction of two things. I was left wondering who was the freer--the men with their understanding, or the animals with their ability to go.

  2. Perfect one-word title that creates a world the lines fit inside of.

  3. I love the sense we get of the men simply by seeing what they notice.

  4. great juxtaposition of windowless room and beautiful images in imagination. Makes me wonder who appreciates the animals more, the inmates or the many people who see them but don't notice them. Also great image of "prisoners" as having same appreciation of beauty as anyone else, thanks

  5. Thank you all for your comments! Working in a men's prison is an intense experience. These guys really learn to observe.