Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Group poem 17 (Moment): Behind bars

Dedicated to both the men and women I have met in prisons/jails.

As I walked through the gates
My heart started racing
Not knowing what to expect
Was my biggest fear
I prayed poetry would come along
And carry me in its wings
To a place far far away from here
Walking through cells
I saw faces
Some in agonizing physical pain
Some emotionally drained
And some who would have cherished death over this
And a pregnant woman smiling at her unborn child
As I tried to sort my emotions out
I heard a loud voice proclaiming
“whatever you’ll do, do not smile and show humane feelings”
I was told not to sympathize
But how could I possibly convey that message
To my heart
And ignore the human emotions held in captivity
Behind cubic cells
Despite their trials and tribulations
They managed to smile
So, how could I not smile back?
Or shed tears at the sight of an elderly woman
Crying in pain
Or the man fighting back his tears
Because of the wound in his leg
I know
This place has become one that carries out punitive punishment
Even when crime rates have significantly dropped over the past two decades
But imprisonment should never be a place where humans are denied the right to smile
Or cater to their humane emotions
If anything prison reform should begin precisely with this in mind

Halima Ahmed
Copyright © 2011a

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