Poem: “Letter to Martha 17” by Dennis Brutus

In prison the clouds assume importance and the birds With a small space of sky cut off by walls of bleak hostility

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Letter to Martha 17

In prison
the clouds assume importance 
and the birds
With a small space of sky 
cut off by walls
of bleak hostility
and pressed upon by hostile authority 
the mind turns upwards
when it can —

— there can be no hope 
of seeing the stars;
the arcs and fluorescent 
have blotted them out —
the complex aeronautics
of the birds 
and their exuberant acrobatics
become matters for intrigued speculation 
and wonderment

cliches about the freedom of the birds
and their absolute freedom from care
become meaningful 

and the graceful unimpeded motion of the clouds
— a kind of music, poetry, dance — 
sends delicate rhythms tremoring through the flesh 
and fantasies course easily through the mind:
— where are they going 
where will they dissolve
will they be seen by those at home 
and whom will they delight?

— Dennis Brutus
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