Behind the walls

Writings of a wandering mind

The lucky ones

Posted By in Musings, Solitude

The lucky ones

I’ve often wondered what I would say, when I could say it. Behind closed doors, or looking off lost in thought I always seem to have those mindful words given in clever delivery. Yet now, when I would need to call upon them, they fail to appear.


What I’ve tried to write here was for a reporter through a friend. I’m almost certain that it fails to properly convey the traumatic totality of an incarcerated life; how could it. Yet maybe for one moment I might succinctly summon a particular spirit, some snippet that is in essence a snapshot of, “it.”

Among our humdrum days that meld into one another there are breaks in the monotony. It often comes as bad food followed by leaky pipes, smothering cells and the occasional new rule. These tend to vary from fruitless exercises in futility to outright acts of inanity. Most move like lines in the sand leaving you to guess what side you are on.

Then there is the constant invasion of privacy through systematic degradation. It comes in many forms but most often as you’re ordered to stand in your underwear around any number of people waiting to strip, squat, cough. They check the bottoms of each foot, your privates. During institutional shakedowns you sit in your underwear afterwards while someone tosses what little you own around like so much trash. Most of it holds like the weight of a boot on your neck.

Strip searches are used as punishment, before visitation, work, and at random. Then Covid19 hits, and the weight shifts. A new series of rules and regulation slaps down on top of our existing ones. As our air thickens, I wonder what will happen as things in the world degrade.

Masks that don’t breathe are passed out with orders to wear them. Yet both only go so far, and even then they are all in short supply. Hand sanitizer pumps remain empty and soap comes in short supply. Our bad food is served in smaller portions.

Officers chide us for having it so good. Some even tout the Covid crisis as, “fake” or “exaggerated”. Then later they threaten fresh charges if you should be without a mask. I find this particularly ironic because more than likely, they’ll be the one to give it to me.

My father dies. My family is scattered. A bitter resignation sours my taste at the helpless inability to do the first thing about any of it. Yet despite all of that, or maybe in spite of it all I know a powerful truth.

While there is so much to be desired, I have so much to be grateful for. Our evening news shows lines for groceries that stretch around the block, food banks that are empty and suddenly my portions aren’t so small, anymore. I read about unemployment and am grateful not just for my job but that it allows me to create and send positive messages out into the world. I have my art, books and music; a smorgasbord for the soul. Most importantly there are connections in thought, in word and deed that transcend distance or disease. I have friends, family and a community of neighbors that builds up where problems would otherwise wear us down.

Yes, I am one of the lucky ones.

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