Exertion itself must be the thing. Surely the tension
is there. Pained devotion to exhaustion and grit
stiffens will near the finish line: a native instinct
of muscle and nerve, a twitch to flight, an ache
wound-sprung deep inside each cell.
Each recalls the captive’s limit of self-restraint.
The reflex to be, the impulse to become what being
begs to be, the primal need itself, blend as one.
Outcasts seized within walls of solid blocks.
Arms outstretched taut as a bow strung to the reach
of endurance. Nerves on edge strain on the verge
of snapping themselves to pieces. The prisoners
plot escape by any desperate means free will commands.
Alien freedom closes in around them,
lethal from all sides to the point of self-destruction
that springs from the underside of being.
To serve, to flee, to call an end
to what curtails execution,
or else see bondage
go all out to occupy
its last resort—
All that negates aspiration
clamors urgent as breath
to burst out loud into open air.
Confinement so incites spirit.
To expire unchained,
to free itself from indignities
the slave endures
chiseled by a brazen talent,
yet overwrought by design.
Near the end, that awesome need
to be done grabs hold,
rancorous through its final passage
with message of triumph in hand.
Release gets on its mark.
Inside the isolation ward,
the exile’s clenched fists
pound on a padded door,
insistent until the drumbeat
of hard knocks compels
a different answer.
A message of surrender.
An epochal cry.
Enough. Now is the time.