When the prisoner is finally set free
he realizes

the bars are now
his own

he flinches from even the lightest touch
shies from the sun, takes cover in rain

isolation his only prize
for such patient endurance.

When bound
he was free to hate

when free
love is the only option.

He finds this freedom

Though wildflowers wave like arms
he shuns their embrace

though the wind dusts his skin
he cannot run through open fields

his feet are heavy
even with no chains

he has become the restraint
he always resented.

And that’s when the prisoner who is finally set free
crumbles to the ground and weeps

for even in defeat
his captors have won

even with unfettered hands and feet he is
unable to run into the night

unable to stop dreaming of freedom and simply be free.

Monica Anna Day