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The Cage

They were on the opposite side of the highway, he in his red Camaro
   throwing her out like garbage.  I watched her trip on her heels,

her little black bag catch in the door's handle.  He was pounding her
   back and shoving her, it was as if her feet were caught in stirrups

and a stallion was bucking off its rider, but its rider was helpless,
   it kept staying on, it couldn't get off, all the contraptions that held the rider

to the mount resisted freedom.  Then she fell to the ground.  I could see
   she tried not to fall too clumsy as if not to break her nails or ruin her makeup.

I shouted at her as she ran across the highway, the cars honking
   as if she was a dog in traffic who broke its leash.  I called for her

and she saw me, I called for her with the door open, and she came in
   so matter of factly.  I saw her beauty then, her youth.  She was a young Filipino

girl with the hard purple lipstick and the black straight hair the color of ink.
   She had the tight jeans, sheer blouse, little breasts uplifted in lace.

I saw his rage come at me across the highway.  I saw she and I were prey.
   We were one.  We were two animals hunted.  This was the city

that keeps animals in cages that mimic Africa.  Big animals
   that circle their cells, sit in their own excrement and do tricks.

Elephants that put their big feet on painted pails and wave their back legs
   while the whole audience applauds.  Exotic butterflies trapped in a room

the glaze of a garden.  Camels numbed to macadam and whips.
   He followed us as we raced through the city, honking and shouting,

rumbling his engine like a gun.  Every stoplight he got out of his car,
   he pounded my doors with his fists, pounded the windows

as if an animal at a drive through zoo and he could crush us,
  get in.  But I wouldn't let him.  I talked to her, I wanted to know

what I was dealing with.  She said I was dealing with cocaine, 
    I was dealing with a man in a cage.  I didn't know if he was 

in a cage or she was in a cage. We talked about being in cages,
   about how somebody had to break the cage and get out,

somebody had to change. She didn't want her father to know.  
    She asked me to drive her to her aunt's. I was driving a whole city, 

a desert. I was weaving in and out of lanes.  I was telling my entire life history 
   as if I could save her, put her back in school, get her away from the man with cocaine.

I stopped a truckful of men on lunch break, said there is a crazy man following us.
    I said follow me to the police station. I could see the crazy man eyeing us 

two stoplights back.  We drove with the men out on lunch in front.
  They watched us go inside. The girl and I sat in the police station, 

she wanted to leave, said she had a doctor's appointment, needed an exam. 
   I asked her if she was pregnant.  When she said no, I didn't believe her.  

She filed a police report against him, said she did it to please me. 
  No one wanted to take her home.  The police had seen it before. 
I drove her to her aunt's.  No one was following.   I watched her walk up to the house,
   chat briefly and wave. I could tell that girl wasn't truthful; she had a cockiness about her

the way she talked  and moved her hips.  I remember her telling me how he beat her, 
   that one day she'd get away.  I looked at the houses, beautiful and big,  

I thought about how some people live in houses and in every house there is a cage.

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