She spent her childhood surrounded
by the missing.
Kidnapped children peered out from milk
cartons, heiresses vanished, then reappeared
in shaky surveillance tapes. Shadowy
foreign governments seized civilians
and held them for years, and terrorists
of all stripes did the same.
She thinks of those Iranian hostages,
held in their workplace, walled
up for over a year. Some evenings,
she feels like a captive
herself, although no scruffy terrorist
holds her at gunpoint, just the shapeless
terrors of bankruptcy and a job hunt at midlife.
She spent half her life expecting to be seized,
but she did not expect so many selves
to be sacrificed. She used to greet
the dawn by logging long runs.
Now she watches the sun rise over jammed cars
on the morning commute.
She used to plant a garden large enough to feed
her family for a season.
Now she picks up a quick meal where she can
or settles for microwaved popcorn.
She used to paint sprawling canvases
that dreamt visions of a new world,
but now she tends to files and forms.
She used to hike through strange parts of the globe.
Now her vacation days, unused, evaporate
at the end of the fiscal year.