Just as the rich man has nothing and no man who has never lived in prison can be free, my jailers were wrong to promise me solitary when the fertile air all around must vibrate with songs, carried to my window by the wind, of the workers in the laundry as they labor, and machete blows of workers clearing tall trees from the jungle just outside the prison race through doors and down the halls ahead of the guard who brings my meal—they separated me from family and made me kin to all—whose heels as he clicks them, whose soles as they scrape, tell me his wife has had their baby and that it is a boy. The spider in the corner is not silent. He coughs as he spins his sticky sieve to catch what travels on the drafts. I hear his prey. The prison at night or in soft rain makes a sound like trees that wave in the amputated homeland behind my eyes. Guilty are we of landlessness because they have seized our land and when we’re evicted we’re guilty of living abroad. They keep us from schools by educating us and set us up in practice to keep us from the law. How could I at trial refrain from accusing the court of contempt? I can leave at any time, but my work here is not done. While they confine me I am the struggle, but if they open the doors and I walk out they will own me again. Better they should keep me here where I can keep an eye on them. They want me to sign for my freedom but I tell them only free men can sign contracts. No. They’ll have to free me first and take their chances.

Copyright © December 08, 2007 David Hodges