Valentine’s Day ranks at the top of the list of rocky days for incarcerated women.
It’s a stark reminder of separation from loved ones, especially partners or spouses and children.
And for some women, this ‘holiday’ jiggles remembrances of the men with whom they served as accomplices in the commission of their crimes.
For JL, imprisonment has facilitated a reckoning of sorts, helping her decouple from what she now admits was a reckless liaison.
Written and read aloud tonight in the company of 13 other ‘inside’ women, she shared “A Haunted Goodbye” in an emotional yet determined voice:
I dreamt of you last night
my heart, my love, my other half
You, the man I would grow old with
I am haunted by you in the night
the silence reminds me you are not there
Did you give up on me?
My heart wants so badly to say I walked away
that this time I had the strength to
stand on two feet, my own, alone
And the truth is I don’t know the answer
but my heart is broken just the same
It is Valentine’s Day, would you still be mine
in another place, in another time?
Does it even matter any more?
What’s the point of wondering?
Every time I let go, I think “I’ll show him”
look at me grow – I’m hotter, I’m stronger,
I’m better than before
The madness is you still haunt me to the core
A pledge, a promise, a staggeringly heartfelt
plight: that this is the end, this is my goodbye
I loved you for so many reasons,
but into the dark we fell
And now we are both locked up,
each in a separate cell
I gave you my heart,
I gave you my all
it wasn’t enough to stop the crash, burn and fall
So I will grow new (heart) chambers, 5, 6, 7, 8
I will build a new life of love,
I will create
That was then and this is now,
and it is all that it will be
This is the end of an era, an end
of you and me