The Place of Confinement

Annalise walked out of her home and saw her next-door neighbor Mrs. M. standing over a baby on the ground. ‘Is everything all right?’ Annalise asked. Mrs. M replied, ‘No, everything is not all right.’ Then Mrs. M. did the unthinkable. She put the gun to the baby and she shot it.

–17 December, 20–. Illinois.

Call it the keep, or the donjon. Call it durance vile, the tower, the monastery of St Mary-of-the-Woods. It is prison, torture cell, proving ground.

It is always in the distance: in the waste places of the earth, behind acres of barbed wire, concrete, dobermans and rottweilers. The rare traveler who braves this grim journey enters in and is seen no more. Strange shapes haunt these unwelcoming halls–ogres, sadists, military police. They are more than human, or less; they bristle with assault rifles, riot gear, black armor, serrated swords, leather wings and horns.

The tortures they inflict are many, but without pattern. They do not punish, nor teach; nor do they inflict pain for their own dark pleasure — these pincers, these pears, these smoldering cages are no more than the working out of their inescapable natures. As the anthill to the ant, so the rack. So the whip. So the flensing knife.

They wear our faces and mirror our suffering back to us, but do not partake of it, do not truly understand it or us. We who are prisoned here, lucky few, struggle to anticipate their ways, which are of god and inhuman. We scry for signs, portents and conjunctions; build astrologies in the constellations of agony they flare upon our bodies.

In the end we die, or are driven forth, or rescued. We gather in the evenings, in smoke-filled bars, in sticky theaters, in well-lit empty parking lots to display our scars, our crippled limbs, these cryptic, silent, puckered mouths.