I was a bookish girl from an early age, always about with one under my nose in my Long Island suburb. That early reading passion eventually turned to a career in teaching high school and college English. So it’s no wonder that the first encounter with yoga was through a pocket sized hand book with pictures of a woman in leotard and tights performing various poses. I imitated those pictures as best I could but remember…read more here.
What they and the entire jail system missed or ignored, though, is the futility of punitive measures. So many of these women young and old had much worse lives outside of jail. They would easily trade the abuse–constant shouting, cursing, shoving, terrorizing and haranguing–for the safety and regularity of meals and meds in jail. All of their efforts to harass, abuse, demean and dehumanize had already been done on the streets by drug addled family, friends and lovers, or poverty, pimps and official and unofficial authorities on the streets. They were impervious to the abuse. The only ones who suffered the doled out intended intimidation were the rarer folks like me who somehow found themselves swept up in a hurricane of their own misstepped making, befuddled and shocked. The rest could care less. Jail was temporary and worse awaited them on the outside.
In the Beginning, There was Stillness is in today’s elephant journal for your reading pleasure. Please enjoy, comment, like, share, email, forward, ignore and/or begrudge me the loss of a good ten minutes of your life–your choice 😉 I hope you do the first–enjoy.
They came in the middle of the night as they do
crumpled in a catatonic somnambulant stupor,
stone cold molded to mrsa laced cell benches,
floors with black mold splotches scattered and
mad banging blasts of batons and bitches’ yells
through bullet proof windows looking out and into
the overcrowded bodies shivering and fetalized
in various states of dress, undress, partial dress.
Picked up without warning, no warning but panic
and running from parties, trips to the supermarket,
dance halls, bedrooms, hangouts on the streets,
of pink, purple, green, magenta or ray blue ratted
hair, tattooed arms, legs, faces, and necks, pierced
faces and breasts, rotten and missing toothed,
blotchy skin pimpled, bruised, track armed, skinny,
bloated S/he’s from teens to terminal, mid to low.
And they slept for days, awakening only to the yell
for meds, health checks, court, chow, count or call
but barely scraping their hides from their sheets
for the shouts, curses and kicks of their cell mates
to get up and out or get t.v. rights and room taken
causing everyone around them to suffer more while
the days on end of motionless moaning sleeping
keeps on blacking them out from the painful blame.
It’s just like those left behind, on the streets, and
in the car–their kids, their dogs, and their wo/men,
their mothers they abused, their fathers who left
their sisters and brothers they don’t even know of–
some of them learning how to get high at 9 years
when dad or mom showed them how to burn even
and how to smoke it until it made it all smooth cool
and smell like the chemical resin burning off wood.
Those around them suffer while they sleep and
awaken to too much lost time and commotion
until they emerge day after day after day then on
to a slowly formed former human participant–
mother, daughter, sister, wife, partner and mate–
who smiles, cares about others and herself to
protect those she loves and comforts strangers
in a sisterhood of sorority chat, slights and H/er.
And just when their skins clear, their hopes appear
they will go back–to the streets, to the madness
to pimps and scams and stealing and ever to H/er
their mistress, the one they all know and sell for
their soul, their children’s, mothers’, fathers’ and
partners’ and mates’, all for H/er–what no one else
can give, the thrill that only their mistress gives
then takes and takes and takes and takes and takes…