Walking Past Mt Eden Prison

Not an old grey stone wall but a steel fence.
I see a courtyard and a guard,
And thin poles with slanted camera eyes.
Closer, the railway line from Grafton to the West.

Closer still, another tall fence, a row of gum trees,
And there’s me, walking,  beside the road.
Fences, railway, guard, poles, me.
All of us efficient, straight,and  strong.

But the trees are disturbing, not because their roots
Tunnel beneath my feet and I must tread carefully.
Not because the trees have been crying
Dusty, battered flowers that once were pink.

Their trunks are twisted, slowly writhing
Like washing wrung out by angry hands.
They seem to wince, to dodge, about to be hit.
Why? There is sun and no more wind than elsewhere.  

Their limbs stretch away from the prison,
Each idiosyncratic, with the odd scribble of leaves
Here, and there, as though brushed onto the sky, each one,
By a Chinese calligrapher writing,  maybe, ‘Forgive’.


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