Taj from Virginia, pictured below, with the inspiration for his beautifully touching ode.
She rises before dawn on Sunday
just to catch an early Southbound train.
She makes 800-mile round-trip
just a single day
for a mere three hours together
then says, after the initial squeeze,
‘It’s already worth it.’
She hires a driver from the station
just to avoid getting lost, getting late
pays him to idle the visitation hours
watching Southern asphalt bake in August swamp simmer.
She shirks off thanks
looks deep in my eyes
dusts the backs of my hands
(that she won’t let go)
with tender kisses that seed tomorrows
into my pores.
to visit at Greensville
(mid-70’s-Soviet-chic, turreted hell)
just to co-mingle our talk with presence and affection.
She cares little about frisks,
even less about growling coyotes
posturing in uniforms and scowls
flashing teeth and gnashing bad ‘tudes,
and not one bit about the sharp summer glare
reflecting off surround-sound razor-wire, cuffs, and chains.
She enthusiastically proclaims
over the thrill of posing
just for a standard prison photo op
despite the full senior-prom-phony grins
and my state-issued, elastic-waisted attire.
It’s not until you live this life on the outside looking in, that you find out how messed up it is. I have heard “our people” called the throw away people. It has always stuck in my head… We were not created to be trash! We are human. We come with flaws. Society scars us. Mistakes give us character. We are gypsies, dreamers and vagabonds.
Yesterday’s blog post was a poem and drawing sent to us by Ron in Florida. I showed my 82-year old aunt Nancy the picture, because she loves to see the artwork that prisoners send in. Nancy has lost some of her ability to read and write, but makes a valiant effort when it is important. When I read the title of the Ron’s poem to her, “I Wish Someone Would Pray For Me,” she immediately handed me a pen and asked me to write his name down, so that she could keep it near her bedside and remember to pray for him. I wrote in large letters, RON. She would carry the paper with his name to me several times a day, sounding out the letters, making sure she was saying his name correctly, “RrrrrrrrAhhhhhNnnn.”
A few days later, Nancy came to me carrying a pad of paper, and said she would like to write a letter to Ron. I thought she wanted to dictate to me so I could write it for her, but instead she handed me a letter she had started and wanted to me to check it, to see if it made sense. I assured her that it did, and she shuffled off to finish the letter – which was mailed to Ron yesterday.
She wrote about looking out her window and seeing the beautiful colors of the trees and flowers in her backyard (Nancy loves color), and of the children that came the night before in their Halloween costumes to get candy. “I once did that, did you?”
Won’t Ron be surprised, and blessed, to receive Nancy’s sweet letter, and to know that such an earnest soul is praying for him?