… in trying to heal the wound that never heals,
lies the strangeness, the inventiveness of a man’s work.
-- Garcia Lorca
I know about the strip searches after our visits
as if our presence left you with a piece of humanity
that had to be removed.
I know how you kept to yourself reading,
praying, adrift in a sea of darkness,
to avoid answering difficult questions.
I know you were embarrassed by the number of letters
arriving daily, signs of those you loved, who missed you,
while those around you were often alone.
I know how on the nights you could not phone, you asked God
to send us a message so we would know you were safe
and we could sleep quietly and dreamlessly.
I know how you saved apples and crackers, stockpiled
them like treasure, to improvise pie and a slice
of home on a Sunday.
I know how you learned and unlearned trust every day.
What I don’t know is how you survived the unspeakable,
the fear, the loneliness, the despair and how you returned
to find the night sky, the open space nearly unbearable.
There’s a black spot in you, I don’t know how to reach,
deafening in its silence and every day it wrestles
for one more piece of your soul.