LSW Prison Project
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Ali's Addendum

At the LSW Session on 8th October, Alison Rose, a stalwart LSW
member whose many credits range from the RSC's legendary production of Nicholas Nickleby to the BBC's internationally acclaimed TV series of 'Tom Jones'; one whose searing principal performance in the Award Winning film, 'Rage', will be seen in general release from January '01, contributed a blissful WitSling.  I asked Ali, as she is popularly known, if she might be willing to share it with the LSW Website Readers as I thought it perfectly encaptured the soulful plight of so many of the men we have met during our various
LSW Prison Project adventures

Graciously Ali agreed and, thus, it follows:-

I might as yet have been a spreading flower
Had poetry been offered me in youth
For verse doth bless, nurture – empower;
With it I should’st not have been uncouth.

But here I stand, a yob, I have no culture.
My speech is limited and bears no fruit,
I am as wordless as an ugly vulture,
An uncommunicative and simple brute.

Oh to fly on words like outspread wings,
To speak those words that hover shy and tame
But trapped they are, and never shall they sing,
Through life I’ll drift, a misfit, lost, lame.

But could I twin one shy word with another?
And could that one in turn offer its palm?
To tentatively touch its nervous brother
Until a line stood, trembling, arm in arm?

And from that line another could be born -
Words heard and held in secret in my mind.
Now from my heart a million words are torn
A word for every feeling I can find.

And suddenly I am a spreading flower
A seed on which the rain has fallen sweet
Every word remembered gives me power
And each one gives me wings beneath my feet.

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Walking down the stairs from that extraordinary
session at HMP The Mount on 10.10.00, the first words I heard Ali utter in confidence to another valued LSW: Prison Project Team member were:  'I didn't want to leave'.  I felt the same.  For reasons which the above piece of verse so pungently convey, every Mount resident had instilled, nay gifted a courageous joy inside each one of 'us' that day.  

Public service on this occasion had indeed been a privilege, whether our friends, for themselves, could conceive of that - 'our' reality - or not.