The hero returns (to prison)

the early morning sky brightens,
shimmering with promise.
I think of picnics,
of seaside trips,
children playing in sandpits,
distant music wafting in through my window,
a ribbon of unfamiliar road,
sweeping hedgerows,
fresh hellos.

the sunshine brings to mind
all those images, those sunshine activities,
absent from today’s agenda.

he has made his decision
later today he returns to prison.
I will be released from these hidden bonds,
to be granted independence at the expense of his freedom.

he will be away for twenty-eight days,
and though I will grieve for him
deep down I am relieved.

after he has left
I will walk up the hill to visit a friend.
I will talk, eat,laugh and cry in her safe company.
she invited me to stay overnight,
but I won’t take up her kind offer.
Instead I will buy a miniature brandy,
come home, and drink it
alone.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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16 thoughts on “The hero returns (to prison)

    1. Thank you Grandmama – I know I’m a little too old to call you that, but it makes me feel warm inside.
      Heart-breaking though this is, I feel confident that it will help my son – he has volunteered to return to prison four 28 days. It’s a long story, and he hasn’t done anything wrong.

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    1. One of he conditions of probation was that he must have an address. He can’t officially live with me – he can only stay for a maximum of 4 weeks, and he won’t go back to his dad, probably because he’s afraid Laura will follow him back there – she’s currently sofa surfing, and even managing to cause him problems with that (moving in on a lovely girl that Paul has recently got to know, and it happened because Laura saw them walking along the street together).
      Pauls probation officer tries to re-integrate her clients, and she’s been doing an excellent job with Paul, but her superiors are becoming impatient. It doesn’t matter to them that Paul has Aspergers syndrome, or that he hasn’t done anything wrong. They want him back in prison. His PO said she could probably hold them off, but he says that if he goes back to prison it will be on his terms – he doesn’t want the fear hanging over him. He’s asked for a 28 day recall, to get it over with. He’ll come out fresh, and I’m going to see if I can have more communication with his PO. I want to be authorised to find him voluntary work. He was meant to have help with that, but it was taking too long, and although that was not his fault, he’s the one who gets the black mark against him.
      Prisons get filled up and lives are ruined, because there aren’t enough resources. In this country we don’t practice prevention, and we don’t bring about a cure. I’m sick of it…

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        1. It is. The only problem is that when he spoke to his probation officer she told him he had until Monday to present himself at the police station (she had to contact the police them to ask for an arrest warrent to be issued – it’s standard practice), so now he’s decided to wait until Sunday night, and I’m on tenterhooks. I’ll be edgy until he’s got the first 24 hours out of the way.
          I feel quite proud of him. He’s had an awful lot to contend with – I haven’t spoken about a lot of it, because I have been hurting too much. I may be the only person who can see how much he’s grown up.

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  1. I’m sad and relieved for you too, Jane. It’s a shame that Paul’s not been getting the help he needs – he has complex issues and our ‘one size fits all’ approach to rehabilitation doesn’t suit everyone. Better that he offers to go back inside, though, as you say, though the pressure on you will be terrrific when he’s back out.
    And you’re right – where are the preventative approaches, the measures to save young people from getting into drugs, gangs, crime? All of that is left to non-profit organisations whose reach is patchy and dependant on where you are in the country, and whose funding is patchier still.
    Good luck to Paul and to you. Be thinking of you X

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      1. That’s the thing that stops us from sinking into despair, isn’t it? Positive steps to change. It’s the feeling of hopelessness, of feeling out of control that leads to dispair. Well done Jane for trying to turn things around – and for helping Paul to do the same. I hope things continue to improve for you X

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