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Second Estrangement

Please raise your hand,
whomever else of you
has been a child,
lost, in a market
or a mall, without
knowing it at first, following
a stranger, accidentally
thinking he is yours,
your family or parent, even
grabbing for his hands,
even calling the word
you said then for “Father,”
only to see the face
look strangely down, utterly
foreign, utterly not the one
who loves you, you
who are a bird suddenly
stunned by the glass partitions
of rooms.
                                        How far
the world you knew, & tall,
& filled, finally, with strangers.

—Aracelis Girmay

Aracelis Girmay, "Second Estrangement" from The Black Maria. Copyright © 2016 by Aracelis Girmay.

Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of BOA Editions Ltd.,


Poetry 180

About the Poet

Aracelis Girmay (1977- ) is the author of three poetry collections, including The Black Maria (BOA Editions, 2016). She is on the faculty of The School for Interdisciplinary Arts at Hampshire College and Drew University’s low-residency MFA program.

Learn more about Aracelis Girmay at The Poetry Foundation.