by Joan Swift
Each prisoner is so sad in the glare
I want to be his mother
tell him the white light will go down
and he will sleep soon.
no need to turn under eyes
to shuffle poor soldiers boys
in a play
to wear numbers obey.
They have hands as limp as wet leaves
the long fingers of their lives
hanging. They cannot see
past the sharp edge nor hear me
breathe. O I would tell each one
he will wake small again
in some utterly new place
Trees without bars sun a sweet juice
field full of pardon.
The walls come in. I am
captured like him
locked in this world forever un-
able to say run
I love you
having to accuse
“The Line-Up,” from STRONG MEASURES. Copyright © 1985 by Joan Swift. Used by permission of Pearson.