I am neither scrimshank nor martyr.
I am a perfectly ordinary woman
who stands accused, maligned by society
for a crime in which she took no part.
In this place monsters and men
can be said to inhabit the same bodies.
In this place I have seen nightmares manifest
but none of that compares
to losing my faith in humanity.
I have summoned demons from air,
from places deep and uncultivated
within my own brittle psyche.
I have taken my resentment and my blood
and made them into a fearsome warpaint.
My cellmate is panting obscenely from above.
The rickety scaffolding protests
nearly as much as she does
and I think, with some revulsion,
of all the absences I must now endure.
My torporific life rarely invites review.
It was an operation performed all in white.
My heart did not survive my dream’s pursuits
and my mind is no sharper for hindsight.
I haven’t received mail for many years
and I’ve had no visitors, I am negligible.
I have only my innocence as a consolation
but it may as well be a sack of potatoes
or a handful of worms in a paper cup.