jeered the prison guard, after our inmate
strike of twenty-two days for more sunlight.
Released after twelve, eighteen, twenty, thirty
years we stayed up all night to see sunrise,
and colors – red shirts, skirts, flowers, green hills,
trees, the beach, and blue sky, bicycles, sea.
Touch had changed. Smooth faces were wrinkled,
a child left at two had his own of five,
and we could turn a handle, touch a door,
open it, shake hands with friends, a stranger,
feel grass or sand under our feet. But
if your touch woke us up we’d surely scream.
News had changed. We became human beings.
But we felt like strangers at home, with friends –
except from prison. We were not heroes.
TVs had remotes, shops self-moving doors.
We had to learn to choose shoes, our own clothes,
how to spend money, and fight the bad dreams.
There were no masks in prison, though we find
them outside. We could not lie to roommates
so we shared thoughts – we read books, learned to think,
learned to read faces, words. And to see
liars in many of the world leaders.
So we still resist now that we’ve been freed.
© Lavinia Kumar
Beyond the Walls
Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, in the US and UK. She writes a blog for her brother’s seniorsmagazine.org, based in Portsmouth, NH.