In our monthly group for women with mentors outside the prison, writing is but a small portion of the time together. It is a seed that starts a common discussion between mentor and mentee.
After paired conversation, we listen to every woman’s words around the larger circle – another layer, building community, trust and understanding. This sharing of experience and feeling creates bonds that root deeper than the words than created them.
This week, one woman’s words capture the essence of life ‘inside’ in simple, stark terms that echo long after they are heard. Likewise, may her search for peace resonate into reality outside the wire.
I know barbed wire, bare walls,
the sounds of cell doors slamming shut,
the monotone of an officer’s radio
as it echoes off cinderblocks.
I know ‘chow call’ and I know ‘lock in’
and I know by now how to stay calm
when I would rather not.
I know 10-33 and 10-25,
I know 5 to 13 and how some days I feel
like I’m never leaving this hollow emptiness.
I know there are things in life that can never be
replaced once you’re on this side of the bars.
I haven’t known peace in many years. But
I know peace is out there … somewhere.
A place with no barbed wire
and the walls belong to me.