and the Pursuit by Sophia Babai

It should be a right
as basic as those concepts
Self-determination, freedom of speech
and all the rest

Rights don’t come simply
but this, your own memory
should inextricably belong to you

Not these nights, late, piecing through
the fragments, seeking links
between dates and images, finding
an email that makes you blink

It was that long ago? Already you felt
that yearning; how long
had you been in love with her

And why do the images crash and
haunt? These promises, praises
tender brushes, twinkling touches
should be memories to treasure

Not grab you as you stand
Make you drop your tray
Make you prostrate and ask
Let these go away

But they’re so dear, they’re you
You want to know
and now you hear there’s a house
you lived in, where you climbed on the
chair as a child and warm hands lifted
your tiny body. You feel your body shrink

Can this really be true?
The shards handed, “here
This is you.” The reflection
scattered and you’re told
to find a self you never knew

Now you must turn and build
a future, choose, make plans, sketch
Dreams grabbed and thrown in your face
That you’re too late to live them now

When those children in countries
denied their rights get paper
they always draw tanks. And when
they’re asked to draw the future
They leave the paper blank

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