THE PRISONER

THE PRISONER

 
 
The clanging of the iron doors,
Resounded down the hall,
"LIGHTS OUT IN FIFTEEN MINUTES!"
A guard's loud voice called.
 
The lonely prisoner heaved a sigh,
And stretched out on his bed,
He stared at nothing on the ceiling,
His hands at rest behind his head.
 
When the lights turned off, his thoughts turned on,
As if both were on one switch,
He mused about it to himself,
So automatic and so quick.
 
His mind went instantly to Catherine,
His first and last thought of the day,
She was always on his mind,
And in his heart to stay.
 
How she looked that day in court,
He never would forget,
When his sentence was announced,
Dear Lord, how Catherine wept.
 
He only wanted one last word,
Before they whisked him from the room,
It seemed to him they couldn't wait,
To introduce him to his doom.
 
They drove the crowded bus straight through,
No stops where he could phone,
That one last word was all he sought,
He'd never felt so much alone.
 
One thing about incarceration,
It provides lots of thinking time,
And this man's brain went round and round,
As the wheels turned in his mind.
 
Attempted murder's what they said,
But, by God, how wrong they were,
This man would hardly hurt a fly,
Let alone attempt a murder.
 
Catherine really knew the truth,
She spoke up in his behalf,
But the D.A. turned his back on her,
And rudely scoffed and laughed.
 
Important facts were thrown out,
"UNFAIR!  UNFAIR!  UNFAIR!"
He could shout it from the rooftops,.
But it would not get him anywhere.
 
He could not believe the verdict,
God knows how hard he prayed,
Catherine said that she'd stand by him,
If it took forever and a day.
 
His lawyer said he'd keep on fighting,
He'd go into court again,
He'd get another trial,
And this time he would win.
 
Good words, well-meant by both of them,
He knew their hearts were in it,
But how long could he hang on?
He was dying by the minute.
 
He felt a tear slide down his cheek,
Who said big men don't cry?
But for now he was a kid again,
And he let the tears roll from his eye.
 
Catherine was so beautiful,
He would concentrate on her,
But all her visions in his mind,
Just became a total blur.
 
A pitiful moan came out of the dark,
My God!  It came from him,
In his pain he had called out,
To his lovely Catherine.
 
Fitfully he slept that night,
Which means he hardly slept at all,
His load was much too big,
His shoulders, much too small.
 
The next morning he woke early,
To a shaft of sunlight through the bars,
It made a pattern on his blanket,
Like tracks for railroad cars.
 
As he watched, another shadow showed,
Something bobbing up and down,
He turned his eyes up to the window,
Amazed by what he found.
 
And there between the bars he saw,
A small bird peeking in,
Hopping, dancing, bouncing, glancing,
It made the sad man grin.
 
This window so high up in the sky,
Not a tree in this concrete slum,
Wherever in this cold, steel world,
Did this little bird come from?
 
Then he heard the tiny bird,
Burst forth in wondrous song,
So small it was - that little thing,
And yet, its voice so strong.
 
The morning light hit the bird just right,
And a halo glowed 'round its head,
Its wings shimmered in a golden light,
"You must be an angel," he said.
 
The man propped up on an elbow,
To better hear and see,
The bird cocked its head and looked at him,
And warbled happily.
 
An epiphany of sorts,
A revelation, like a dream,
A sign to him of God and hope,
A miracle, it seemed!
 
If a tiny bird could reach such heights,
With no apparent support,
Maybe this man could do the same,
Perhaps he'd sold God short.
 
The little bird he'd seen and heard,
Assured him God was there,
That God had not deserted him,
The prisoner knelt in prayer.
 
He'd write today and tell Catherine,
How faith came to him out of the blue.
And because of a tiny bird,
His spirit had been renewed,
 
How God sent him a sign direct,
A tiny messenger of hope,
An angel?  A bird?  Who really knew?
Except the man knew now he could cope.
 
Virginia (Ginny) Ellis
Copyright November 2002




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