The fictitious narrator of this poem is a former prisoner of war. The thoughts and emotions leading to the larger question of what keeps us alive in times of terror are those of the soldier, survivor and hero. This poem first appeared in Poems from the Battlefield by WbtR author Katherine Gotthardt and is dedicated to those who have suffered for the sake of our freedom.
The Prison Camp Survivors
I must have lived on a memory,
because there was nothing in that camp
but hiding, confining, despising,
guarded wood that hedged us in,
thick talk of bombastic fear,
bragging that kept us breathing.
I’d stare you down on any day,
hold my thin patch of ground, refuse
to walk away, my stubborn fury feeding
starving resolve, the relentless rush of self
preservation, and the need to protect a nation.
What is it that kept us alive so long
when cages held us fast? Was it hope or will
or stupidity? Competitive pride or vanity?
Or was it the raven circling our minds,
daring our dare to survive?
copyright 2009, Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
used with permission