Where There’s a Wall

Where there’s a wall

there’s a way through a

gate or door. There’s even

a ladder perhaps and a

sentinel who sometimes sleeps.

There are secret passwords you

can overhear. There are methods

of torture for extracting clues

to maps of underground passages.

There are zeppelins, helicopters,

rockets, bombs, battering rams,

armies with trumpets whose

all at once blast shatters

the foundations.


Where there’s a wall there are

words to whisper by loose bricks,

wailing prayers to utter, birds

to carry messages taped to their feet.

There are letters to be written —

poems even.


Faint as in a dream

is the voice that calls

from the belly

of the wall.

Joy Kogawa, “Where There’s a Wall” from Woman in the Woods. Copyright © 1985 by Mosaic Press Publishers. Reprinted by permission of Mosaic Press Publishers.

Source: Woman in the Woods (Mosaic Press Publishers, 1985).