When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.
– Barbara Bloom
Gold-fill utilized to mend and restore valuable pieces of Japanese artwork (Kintsugi) is a powerful metaphor for incarcerated women.
They view themselves as broken, cracked, and sometimes even shattered, uncertain about the possibilities for repair.
This week’s writing circle was particularly poignant as three veteran writers returned to the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility after unsuccessful attempts at living in their home communities.
Their stints were short-lived — only a few months in both Burlington and Winooski. Alas, their dreams for smooth and successful reentry were dashed, a most humbling reality to process and move beyond within the largely unsupportive environment of prison.
Yet faithfully they returned to the writing circle, knowing and trusting that a welcoming energy would greet them at the door; that there would be no judgments or questions about what went wrong; that pen and paper would be offered with a cheerful smile, and the hard work of unearthing the pain of cracked lives would begin again.
Here is some of that introspection continued:
When something’s suffered damage,
what is our first knee jerk reaction?
Do we think this is something
we value or is sentimental
therefore worth repair,
or do we see it as waste,
no longer of any value at all?
What about me?
I’ve suffered damage,
great gaping cracks
in my inmost being.
The damage I have suffered
is but just a little of my history.
So do you cast me aside as
unworthy of tenderness and care?
Some would think,
where would I begin to try
and fit the pieces back together,
and would she wind up as
something hideous, a roadmap of scars.
Or could she be ever so gently patched,
filled and soothed back to the beauty
she was meant to be from the start?
I can only dream that someday
my cracks will be filled and
my history written as beauty –
beauty in the eye of the Beholder.