“Life is a constant Advent season: we are continually waiting to become, to discover, to complete, to fulfill. Hope, struggle, fear, expectation and fulfillment are all part of our Advent experience.”
As we enter the season of Advent, there is little to cheer on women incarcerated at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility. Waiting and preparation are what their time is made of; and for many of them, the hope that originally wove through the fabric of time has simply worn thin.
Holidays can be a particularly tough time inside, as they remind us of family closeness and the warmth of special traditions. Yet in spite of all that seems to separate us from one another, our weekly opportunity to sit together, pen our thoughts and share them openly brings a measure of relief, of closeness … even of hope.
A sampling of the writing from this week follows, written by the artists whose work appears above:
Hope has no goddamned wings. Perhaps she had them once, a shining Christmas angel full-feathered. Now she staggers wet cobblestones dripping bloody stumps, stray feathers mutilated with her blood. She weeps and wails, sorry for herself or sorry for me. Hope has no goddamned wings. She doesn’t wear a sparkling samite sheath. She wears tattered rags, too worn and stained to be black, too mottled to be gray. Her muddy petticoat bares torn lace, my Freudian slip showing. Hope has no goddamned wings. Her feet bleed with every halting step, the mean and bitter earth cutting and snatching, tearing and rending tender, once-pristine feet. Hope has no goddamned wings. She was shot down long ago, if she ever flew at all on wings made of the dreams of fools. Hope has no goddamned wings. I’ve never seen her face shining with holy light, only wet with sweat and tears, folded like a Japanese fan with effort. Hope has no goddamned wings. She doesn’t sing a victory tune. She compels me on with a fucking dirge – mine – if I don’t work harder, faster, longer, better … mine, if I’m lucky. Hope has no goddamned wings.
Here I stand alone in my cell surrounded by nothing but madness, feeling so lost and empty inside, wondering when my day is going to be up. Sitting here waiting to find out my fate and what my future holds. Here I stand alone growing cold inside by the second, surrounded by people showing me fake love, telling me they care when I know deep down that it’s just a front. Because I stand alone like I have my entire life. That’s all I know. I stare at these white concrete walls and all I see is them closing in on me. Body filled with anxiety feeling like I’m suffocating, wondering when I’m actually going to break and thinking who would be there to pick up the pieces? Wait … Nobody is there ‘cause I stand alone!
THIS IS MY LIFE
If I knew you’d leave me lonely, I never would have came. You have sat confined with me for too long and now it seems you have forgotten. Don’t you remember how the stench of desperation clings to your skin? Don’t you remember the hope lost and nights with no one to turn to? I’m sick with disappointment. I’m not even scratching the surface. All of this time, I’ve hung on to nothing but a thread. I guess it just finally gave, sending a free fall of my emotional being. This place, with all of its dirty filth of the masses, has brought me to my knees. I have prayed to a God that may or may not be real, and I have listened to a story that won’t stop repeating. I’ve come to a realization alright: this is my life and I’m done trying. I think I can just be without too much effort. I think the exertion has run dry. Don’t expect a call, don’t expect a tear. Don’t expect me to care all that much. I just can’t heal wounds that are still bleeding. Now I run.