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A river rushes through large boulders and trees
Photo by Josh Carter on Unsplash

I stand on the rock,
Leaning against the tree,
Watching the river
Rush past,
Glad to be free.
The rock is the United States,
Joined on tectonic plates
Deep and wide.
The tree is
Rooted in the rock,
The Star-Spangled Banner in the sky,
And the river
Is the movement of
People I see.

My life
Consists of standing firm
Through the ages.
I represent the rock
And its various stages.
The river rushes
Around my foundation,
Causing commotion,
Its motion
Thins my stature
By public erosion.
Like the tree, I stand
Firm, brave, and courageous.

The tree is me.
I’m deeply rooted
In the rock.
I drink for the river
With birds
And livestock.
My branches
Stretch all as if to
Tap on the clouds,
And my trunk is wide
So my age
Makes me proud.
The growth of me
Will never stop.
I’ll never drop.

Of course I am also
The river,
Flowing to and fro,
Fast and slow.
I suppose
I make the tree in the rock

I worry
That the rock will eventually
Lose its place
Pushing itself
And the tree
As if trying to
Win a race
To be the first
In a new world
For the river
To flow.

All three are who I am
In the world:
The rock is the land
The river, the people,
The tree, the flag unfurled.
We all stand
Tall and strong,
From sea to shining sea
Ready to take on all comers.
Don’t tread on me …

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Mesro Dhu Rafa'a

George Coles-El, better known as Mesro Dhu Rafa’a, is a poet, writer and graffiti artist. When Mesro is not tutoring GED students and writing, he enjoys role-playing games such as “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Magic, The Gathering,” and writing science fiction and fantasy stories. During this pandemic, Mesro has completed an anthology of writings called Unsung Hero. Mesro Dhu Rafa’a is a pseudonym, which means “stand with the sun, master of the ascendants.” He is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in California.