A poet in prison

Liu Xiaobo

by Liz Trew

The prisoner lives and writes inside
a hunger strike

a house arrest

a labour camp

a prison cell

He writes an elegy each spring
he writes to remember the glorious crowd
the peaceful youth shot in the back

he writes to remember the mothers who gather their grief
he lives and writes for his cowering self
he writes with a needle of memory inside his flesh

he lives and writes to embrace his wife
he writes to a moonlit visitor tonight –
a friendly rat who casts his shadow through iron bars

he writes without paper and pen
he writes to his motherland and has no enemies
he writes his thoughts with blood in the wind

he writes to turn each spring of dust a perennial green
he writes on the stars that died out many years ago
but their light still reaches us.

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