Tuesday, 10 March 2015

wandsworth prison blues

the tangled barbed wire and the invisible man, from above he shrieks freedom!, i want to be free! --//inside... i watch silently as they unfurl, a series of reunions, the sad kind, the kind filled with lingering stares, unspoken words, pain and sorrow. collective souls. longing for a tomorrow.... that we may never arrive at. the babies go quiet, the lovers kiss. absent fathers play with their little girls. old mothers console their aging boys. they pretend to be strong but they're breaking inside. some of them aren't. they don't see it or feel it, they've laughed too hard and for too long to cry. to find kinship in an unlikely place. and the camaraderie of the outsiders, only traversing a short distance for a short span of time. and the stoicism... the anticipation... 
             and the canteen, not the first one in the transit centre but the second one inside the prison, the one with the big man behind the makeshift counter with mean tattoos but kind eyes and he takes orders and his fellow Indian worker types them into his till, all the sums. and queuing, times passing, and queuing, with women with tears in their eyes, waiting to buy tea and mars bars and pringles. and they take the yellow ovals out of the drum. and they put them in a plastic bag. crunch. crunch. scattered crumbs.  
          and there's a sadness and fleetingness and a heaviness in the air, maybe its the children's drawings, maybe its the sunlight, the fast-fading sunlight in the visiting hall, where the prisoners sit and their loved ones sit, separated by distance, and miles and wrinkles and sighs, locked eyes and silent sighs and silent silence, and the intensity of the space. and of watching and of encountering. and watching others encountering. and the ticking clock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, and those baby's eyes, crystal blue, his puffy face, bright, full of hope, anew. and the worn abacus, that pink busted sofa seat and that kid's book, dirty harry I think it was, the book about a dog. and the empty dog cages where the drug sniffing dogs rest and those searches, arms lifted, no pocket goes unturned, no person goes unnamed, and there are empty bowls with scattered memories and on the wall behind there are notices about suicide and chemical substances.
                                    and the greyness of the prison, offset by the blue sky outside, to not be allowed to see the blue sky outside and the sun above it, to always be in greyness, consumed by grey, darkening and lightening in shades, melancholia, drowning in it and to go from one waiting room to another and listening to the things they say like 'i wish i could have taken my phone in, I would have taken a hundred selfies in prison with my baby and they would have got so many likes', and 'this is his second time inside, the first time was when I was pregnant, ten months after he was back in, he never learned' and those brazen but weary officers and the stairs and the african security guards and the two lawyers and the beautiful ladies from urban music videos with piercings, perfect brows and straightened hair, and the discomfort and the laughs, some forced, some more forced and foreign languages and tick tock, tick tock, and the grey stubble and growing old inside, and growing old outside, and having to say goodbye, they had to all say goodbye, and the song played, by johnny cash, i walk the line. the line. that blurred line.