Monday, 28 March 2011

FREEDOM - Pat Arrowsmith ( b.3/3/30)

Here at least, I thought,
I shall find freedom.
Here in prison all encumbrances
will be removed.
I shall be left without the burden of
possessions, responsibilities, relationships.
Alone and naked I shall feel
a fresh wind over my uncluttered body
blow each pore clear,
cooling and cleaning every crevice.

At last I shall know the relief of
simply obeying orders,
owning nothing,
caring for no-one.
being uncared for.

I shall sit content for hours on end
in a bare cell,
glad to be cut off from
things, people, commitments and the
confusing world outside.

But I was wrong.
There is no freedom here-
prison is the world in microcosm.

In my locker is a cache of valuables:
needle, cotton, nail-file, pencil.
My wages buy me fruit and biscuits which
I hoard and hide,
fearing they'll get stolen.

Meticulously I arrange the flowers that
outside friends send in:
with difficulty acquire a tin of shoe polish:
carefully decorate my cell with cut out pictures:
get flustered if I lose my mug or bucket.

I am no hermit from the outside world,
but strain through busy days to read
each item in the newspapers.
International problems follow me inside;
a prisoner is picked on - she is coloured.

Every evening I am forced to choose
betwen a range of recreations:
I may read or dance or take a bath,
go to class, play darts or
watch the news.

I am seldom on my own:
a geometry of love, hate, friendship
forms about me.
Someone calls my name,
enters my cell,
asks a favour,
makes some claim upon me.

And I marvel
as I lie alone at night
that this world is as complex as the other:
that even here in jail I am not free to
lose my freedom.

Holloway Prison, London, 1969

Published by Edinburgh Univesity Student Publications Board 1975_

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