Frank Turgeon

The Prisoner

(After Viewing Hilda Woolnough’s Exhibit, Guantanamo)

I dreamed I asked the guard:
How long have I been held?
I dreamed he said:
I do not know, because you were here
The day I started on this job.
I dreamed I said:
I do not know the nature of my crime.
I know I would not hurt another man,
I do not steal, and I am not concerned
With politics, or issues of the running of the land.

I know that I have lived here for some time,
Because I know my cellmates as my friends.
They say good-day, or smile, wink in passing,
Just to cheer my soul. They are a decent lot.

They find me books. Often at a meal,
They give me food, I must need sustenance.
Once, I asked the eldest guard if he knew how long,
“How long have I been here?”

He scratched his head, and said:
“I do not know. You are here as long
As I recall. Ask that other guard,
Because he knows most things:
The comings and the goings of all men.”

I spoke with him, but he was on a ladder:
“I must change this bulb,
Or there will be no light for anyone.
I watched a man go out today.
A family came to meet him, afraid to smile.

In case of a mistake, he could be put back in,
How gray and sullen they all seemed,
The metal clanging behind, as they scurried,
Scurried out the door.”

“Ask the man behind the desk,” another said.
I did, but that one said:
“My shift is over, I’m going for the day.”

What can I do? I don’t recall how long
It’s been or why.
I seem to sleep a lot and often,
When I’m standing in the shower,
My mind will disappear. Where it goes
I do not know. Perhaps it goes outside.

Perhaps I go to a sunny place beside the water.
I sit upon the grass and watch the river
Moving in its journey to some sea.

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