Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Regaining One's Freedom

Florence Cassez by Gwendrina

A Parisian Woman Takes A Moment To Assess Her Life And Release.

(With empathy toward Florence Cassez.)

Beautiful in blue leather, light
painting your Titian hair, you stand
on the balcony freed -- feeling
the pleasure of confinement.

Quietly, your mind takes in
the height of trees, rooftops, the antique iron
of railings, metro clock, street lamps
and then –

a guard tower stares back
with its deck of galvanized steel
and insects unzipping the heat.

Those black hours in Mexico
seemed blacker in day
than the night grown tame
as other  women slept

and guards slumped in chairs
reading a magazine
or unwrapping a package
of cigarettes.

You had a window
and bed, luxury items
most inmates were denied.

Mesh between bars
and under the mattress
trapped dreams
of the hostages, the ranch house, the betrayal
of those you loved.

You could not dismiss them
or your innocence;
but one evening
you looked at the sky
and perceived a necklace of stars. Sapphires

The Empress Carlotta
might have worn; and thoughts turned
to her diary. You once read
how she felt betrayed
by her countrymen

and became suspicious
of every shadow
cast in her room -- except

a mourning dove
untangling itself
from vine leaves on her shutter

That night, you did not see
or hear any birds
.but felt change, trusted the wind.

It entered the courtyard
on a glide, carrying in its mouth
the fresh scent of grass – strewn
with hints of the sea.

This poem was inspired by recent events and a talk with French artist, Marie-France Riviere, along with her wonderful and expressive actu-blog image. We discussed the liberation of Florence Cassez who had been wrongfully accused of participating in a kidnapping scheme and was sentenced to 60 years in a Mexican jail. Denied her rights, a fair trial and dignity, she survived a seven year stay while always professing her innocence.

This poem looks at the soul of a woman who has returned home and now reacquaints herself with freedom and familiar scenes. She walks out onto her hotel balcony and  takes in the view, marveling at the simplest things like the height of trees and the antique craftsmanship of iron railings, filigreed lamp posts and metro clock. And in the midst
of  this reflective pause, memories of the prison resurface with a sudden flashback to the guard tower. She then recalls the stark conditions of her cell, the recurring dreams of her arrest and betrayal by those who had befriended her. Yet, despite her suffering, she also recalls the turning point, that night of epiphany when her heart felt things where about to change.

Looking at the evening sky, she perceived something beautiful and reminiscent of a historic figure. A necklace of stars, sapphires the 19th century noblewoman, Carlotta, might have worn. Having read the diary of the tragic and paranoid ruler who reigned as empress and wife to Maximillian, Emperor of Mexico from 1864 -1867,  she recalls a certain passage. This particular entry defined Carlotta’s sense of betrayal by her countrymen who refused to help her husband stay in power and constant fear of every shadow appearing in her chambers. Every shadow except one that appeared on the shutter – that of a mourning dove struggling to extricate itself from vine leaves. This becomes symbolic for Florence. Though she did see or hear any birds that night, she felt the wind shift.. Like a harbinger, it glided into the yard carrying the fresh scent of grass in its mouth -- strewn with hints of the sea. A sign of a forthcoming journey, a voyage that concealed itself as something unfamiliar but reassuring. Something she could trust and believe in.

Credits - The paraphrased quote about the voyage is taken from Michael Palmer’s poem, “Tomb of Beaudelaire.”

............The details of Carlotta’s diary and Florence Cassez’s knowledge of it are imagined, artistic license taken to enhance the dramatic effect and theme of this poem.
The image was designed by French artist, Marie-France Riviere and entitled,  "Florence CASSEZ est libre". More of her artwork concerning news and current events as well as feminine portraits of women and flowers can be found on her blogsite ---


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