There is no place like prison for hearing what is real. Stark, painful, funny, poignant, harsh. All of it. What was real one recent night was extreme heat, no fans, and a wild array of writing. Writing that ranged from explicitly sexual to harrowingly life-threatening. Writing that included tributes to a mentor and to a young charge at daycare.
What is real has no singular definition or identity. It just is. Likewise, this poem ‘found’ from the lines spoken that stuffy evening, when I was challenged to ‘see what THAT poem will look like‘ from such disparate writings. And here it is – as real and visceral and true as each and every woman writing around the table.
Here is What is Real
My closet full of fuck-its.
Five badass kids in the back of the car.
This hell known to the outside world as CRCF –
I was counting on that money.
Teaching my little sister how to swim.
Being in the presence of a charmer.
A cherry of wisdom from whoever may be speaking.
The choice to go over the cliff or up the tree.
A new identity.
Respect for a woman.
A misstep leading to nowhere.
A fight worth keeping.
We didn’t die today!
Let’s go back to November 2011.
Emotions are so frail.
Obstacles come and go;
holding it all together is such a challenge,
but I’ve decided to give it a try.
That she is me, gliding,
sure the thickness becomes thin
like rainbow sprinkles
in a different light.
You begin each new chapter of life in the thick of things,
hip deep in the work.
You struggle but achieve
the day’s hard weavings.
The one who holds them dear
measures the meaning of my heart –
a spoken word that named it for a moment.
Something is coming, and soon —
my own fiber whole and strong.