Stockholm Syndrome

By Katherine Armstrong

My prison overflows with garden birds and butterflies,
I collide with instruments of torture unexpectedly:
Flower spikes, rough seedheads, briars, spiny conkers.
Nights, the white noise of the wind keeps us awake,
And the rain splashes down and hurts our throats,
At dawn the air is pure as glass, it makes us weep,
While our food is the nursery fare of prisons everywhere,
Water, bread, milk tea.
Together in our cell, forgotten,
We run fingers over the surface of our bubble
In disbelieving, guilty, wondering content.

Katherine Armstrong published her debut novel, A Pair of Sharp Eyes (Hookline Books) in 2019. She teaches creative writing and is working on a second historical novel, The Darkest Voyage.

Katherine Armstrong: I wrote ‘Stockholm syndrome’ to express my ambivalence about the lockdown. Few of us would have volunteered for it, but it’s helped us to pay more attention to nature, and that in turn has helped us cope.

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Sarah Wragg
Sarah Wragg
1 year ago

“Disbelieving, guilty, wondering content” – what a fantastic summary of everything I felt during lockdown. And what many thought would be a prison that turned out to give some of us such freedom. Brilliant title too.

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