Heavy sweat and close, stale air. Voices calling to each other out cell windows. I escape with my voice too, throw it to those who nearly understand or might. But I do not think of my loved ones, not in this place. I spend a lot of time locked in because I’m ashamed. Tired lately and the knowledge makes me sad. I stare unseeing out the window. The mesh is coarse and lets in all the still air and I suspend in mindless moments. staring at nothing. between activities. I’ll lose whole hours this way. I am trapped by my own truth because I cannot lie to myself, of course being in jail is unbearable. I’m in love, and to be unable to develop a tract of feeling so important it never confronts you only makes itself felt underlying everything, is placing my life in the state of holding. The rest of it, my life, all the history that I can still remember as having formed me…my other tracts of writing, travel, instantaneous Now coins of being so thrown into the finite immediacy of moment by moment you lose track of all place, it all stands still and suffers. For lack of the love I cannot name.
We are going outside. I get ready by rote and smile softly to myself. The cord thick fabric of the orange over my cotton t-shirt. On its own it shows of a comically perfect amount of my cleavage. The hint of palms full of supple sex skin, my signs of sex in public institutionalized, made me angry the first time I put it on. Regardless of whatever I think I feel most comfortable as, I’ve resigned to turning bits of my life into demonstrations of whatever I feel is right. I have no lasting will to perform consistently. to live as I should, always.
I shuffle soft out into the main room, deferring with each tired, swaying step to make room for the other girls. I’m out last behind Christina. I feel her familiar appearance more than see it. The slope of her shoulders, the width of her middle. She stands facing where we are going. I like the way she does her hair pulled into a blonde bun. I know she’s there and I feel better.
“No talking in the hallway!” The female guard yells out at all of us. Bemused, thinking of all the NO TALKING stamped black onto the walls every ten feet, I face the wall but one of my hands hangs up in mid air. There isn’t enough wall, I’m edged to the end for all the people, and there’s an indent in the construction of the door frame from where the wall is. My left forearm, slashed all to Hell in scars, hangs there facing me. I never look at it. I don’t now either. I feel now like it’s some sign of extreme damage, HANDLE WITH CARE, like that’s the reason why everyone gives me a break. It has to be. I cough loudly, bark once. “Cover your mouth!” the guard yells at me. ”What?” I snipe. She just ignores me. Walks down the line of us, then screams so that I mentally wince in auditory pain: “I’ll say it in a different language: SHUT THE drat UP!”
We slope down the hallway, my orange shoes are flapping like loose flats or casual loungewear. Too hot for socks. I feel dirty and unmanned, as though my painstakingly developed culture, protected by loose clothing I sort of liked, a formal collared shirt. Taken from me by unbelieving strangers. In exchange for this. My pant legs are freying. It bothers me but I try to melt in unity with the line ahead. A shaved male guard directs us downstairs and I’m reminded of more organized times in my life. When I could be a part of a line or a circle or whatever and not question everything so much or worry incessantly. But now I’m realizing the potential for danger in the present situation. The hallway is dark and close, winds with odd, obtuse angles, and the walls look very hard. We are all smallish women, there’s a big black guy up ahead leading around the corner, the shaved guy, and I realize there are no female guards present. I just notice this fact briefly as I walk. It never seemed important before.
Out the open door we step onto a raised platform of grating. The covered walkway to the stairs down and the observation tower cage are all made out of wire fence grid, see thru and suspended in the air. To our left a familiar man’s voice calls out to us from his open cell window: “Hey, you in the orange!” I like his voice. Without seeing him I know i’d like him, that we could communicate – on some level. It just figures that I hear these opening voices in jail. that he’s right there by the catwalk.
“Oh wow, that guy’s hilarious,” says Cindy. Cindy underhands about everything, just lets it fly above her as she smiles at whatever happens outside or inside our pod. Smiles to the world, playing dumb. She bothers me more than anyone else in our pod because she won’t meet me in honest conversation. She counters all my efforts to understand like a road block. I smile, self-conscious now of all the watching eyes. The potential eyes. Thinking about that guy. I remember what he said the rec before last when I went out. “Don’t go too fast, you don’t want to get hurt.” It’s uncanny how his voice reminds me exactly of someone who also hiked the Appalachian Trail. Just two weeks ago, we were running through the woods. We’d cross paths sometimes. The last I saw Wet Dog he told me about a pool of blood he’d seen near the AT. Recent crime scene with the officers just coming in. “It looked like there was a piece of meat in it” he said. Nobody gave out any information and the incident had been covered up. Regardless of the potential danger, I’d rather still be there where my death would be my fault. Here, it’s just confined poison. through the food, the air, the bad water. There is enough land in the United States for all individuals to grow into themselves, but Capitalism has us all living on top of each other (even us clowns), buying things hurredly in a demented panic to avoid the reality that we’re all too drating close, it’s not even sanitary.
I beat down the stairway, pat each foot on all the stairs getting to somewhere, getting outside, but when we break in to the open space I don’t know where to go or group or not. I don’t care particularly, and that’s a great thing that lets me lord it over people. backed up by complete honesty at all times, and the convictions of intelligence. I loaf off slowly to the right, enjoying the sun. I think I’ll walk around the track the way I like to do. Exercise. Make use of everything. My hair is out and I am conscious of how it’ll turn lighter over time like this. Pulled back into a bun, only the outside shell would be affected. I live for absolute Now because I’ve rejected most everything else. All in makes the most sense to me, despite warnings that it’s expensive. I don’t care. I don’t need a mask because I’m not afraid.
I watch Christina playing basketball with a really young black girl. The rest of the girls are leaning or sitting down against the fence. I walk and feel the sun.