This week we received a packet from Monroe Country Correctional Center in Bloomington, IN. Women in G Block had read poems from HEAR ME, SEE ME: Incarcerated Women Write. Moved by those words, they penned responses to the authors here in VT during their own recent writing circle.
Our writers inside Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility last Thursday night witnessed firsthand how powerfully words can connect women. Women sharing the experience of incarceration, yes. But more than that, women unmasked and vulnerable connecting with one another through writing.
Because Thursday was also Halloween, we wrote about the masks we hide behind, the masks we want to become, the masks of who we once were. The poem by new writer TC, below, fairly explodes with the tension of masking the pain and loss of separation from her children. Another connection felt, made, witnessed.
We smile, but oh, my God!
sometimes we just want to cry
faced with the separation from our children,
their every day routines.
Even after years of this – still –
we smile, but oh, my God!
we cry out to you —
myself, my friends, the pain we feel
hurting, the ache in our hearts
no one but a mother can understand . . .
Some can say it’s a mask we wear –
so easily we laugh, we carry on,
we sing and are joyous –
even when we feel pain, you can see us.
We smile – but oh, my God!
the tears we shed sometimes.
Some think we are strong.
Some know we are weak
and we cry under our so-called ‘mask.’
Those that know us know we don’t hide our tears.
My children are my kryptonite!
We smile. But oh, my God!
We know you collect our tears.