The prisoner wants the only window’s
horizontal iron bars to rust, the raindrops
strung before the gray day after rain,
these unspendable coins purchasing
light and air, these upside-down opals
lined up like the pure eyes of guards
who have never witnessed battle.
The sun comes through, and his mind drifts
to some painter studying, tracing shadows
of outdoor plants on a piece of paper below.
Outside, little piles of dirt or ash
may seem the only audience, but leaves
break forth from them in time, little proverbs
with their green and silver sides.
For example: The fear of the Lord
is the beginning of wisdom.
On a bench near the wall listening
for the beauty in slow truth, a book
open to a beautiful sentence
almost sings of freedom
the same way the prisoner used to gentle
his horse, repeating her name, stroking
her silky ears because, after all,
he made her who she is, didn’t he?
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.