Stranger in Two Worlds

Harris, Jean

Macmillan, 1986

p. 220

“Russia is the other side of the world: its flowers must be different. But they aren’t, and in the weeks that followed, as I travelled over that broad country, I saw them all again and again, zinnias, petunias, begonias, calendulas, asters, and all the other familiar flowers that grew in my garden at home. When you’re far away from home, the exotic is expected, the familiar is what surprises: teapots, aprons, and petunias are the things that catch the eye. I remembered that experience and felt it again the first night I was in prison. I walked into the recreation room at 9:30 p.m., just before lock-down and there were women in nightgowns and robes, writing letters, ironing a blouse, fixing each other’s hair, playing cards, showing pictures of their children. Prison is the dark side of the moon, but women in it look so ordinary.”