Artist Walter Inglis Anderson escaped from the Mississippi State Insane Asylum
on 1 April 1939



hold, he prayed, and

wrenched the sheet into a rope.

               heft, and twist.

               heft, and twist.

tie a knot when the fear is greatest;

loop when thinking of elegance.

bound, he dropped, and

left the second-storey room.

               hang, then pause.

               hang, then pause.

make a point upon the wall;

soap (ivory) against brick (red).

swift, he worked, and

outlined an arch, flared a nostril.

               draw one bird.

               draw two birds.

detail a plume amid the flock;

sculpt a wing in waxy relief.

far, he stretched, and

marked out one last flight.

               breathe, and rest.

               breathe, and rest.

slide to the freedom close below:

one less inmate come morning.




               leave taking

               taking wing



speech has failed


i will be here

this will be here

i will paint it here

                                           – a gift –

                                                         – a map –

you may take it

you may paint and fly

you may be paint, embrace flying

               do not

               choose to 


                                         until you have only soap

               fly now

               be flying

               take flight

               be flight

               say you understand

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