power of the few

mother with son

credit – aperfectworld.org

This past week was one of those intensely bittersweet writing groups. Small, intimate and familiar, we have written with these women on and off for more than four years. Each has enormous odds to overcome in her life, inside and out. Each has suffered small triumphs and overwhelming setbacks. Heartache, loss, and self-loathing snake their way through each woman’s writing.

Yet within our few minutes of writing in this circle of a few women, a power was unleashed that needs to be shared to be understood. In contrast to our usual practice here, I am going to post a writing every other day this week so you, too, can be moved by the power of these few.


My mind was awakened to the early morning’s shuffle of women coming back from breakfast. My eyes popped open and met the dim light peeking through the crack from the door. I’m rested, wide awake. I reach past my alarm clock and make use of my pen and paper. I feel as though, while I was asleep, I was heavy in thought, pondering on my ins and outs of this place and what may become of my future. My second son is at the center of my universe, my third son is in tow. Continue reading

summer nights

Summer Solstice Sunset

Summer Solstice Sunset (Photo credit: erik9000)

June is rich with writing prompts, what with Father’s Day, the Summer Solstice, commencements and other celebrations. Although women inside Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility have limited opportunities to be outdoors during this or any season, they carry strong memories and associations within. Last week we wrote pieces about how summer’s proliferation of nature resonates with us. As is our custom in the week following a circle, I create a ‘found poem’ from lines shared at the previous meeting. This creates a kind of communal poem, woven from the words of each woman. Put together in this way, phrases change and merge their meanings in new and unexpected ways as women hear their words anew.

Rain moving in
spreads through the sky.
Watch it, watch it closely;

the world awakening
in this small piece of her earth
is alive! breathe it all in!

Stripped of all my identities
her story becomes my story –
she has arisen so quickly

she travels far, she climbs high
then she walks down, down, down
to what matters most
her only wish to live and be free.

Who can see day turn to night?
vines have climbed, the birds calling
a new perspective.

How complex I am!|
my heart wants
the bared truth
born with a will to live,
to dribble sand castles of longing
into the voice that was always my own