18 August, 2007

Morning Nostalgia

[This post originally appeared on my MySpace blog, which no longer exists. The date of the original posting has been lost.]

White. And there are only trucks down on the interstate as I look to the east, at the murky sun. Between there and here lies an improbable distance — maybe a third of a mile — hyphenated by a fence, electric, razor-wired, and aglitter with ice. Within the prison, the snow is clean and undisturbed, save but four sets of footprints left by the bundled corrections officers during the nightly perimeter checks, and, if I angle my head sufficiently downward, the fence and the prints and even the walls of my cell fade into the periphery, and the drift beneath my narrow window becomes all I can see. Standing there like this, my cellmate silently breathing in his sleep a couple of feet away, I see the crystals at the crest of the drift one facet at a time, as each momentarily casts the morning rays. The perfect ridge is close. I could reach out and grasp a handful, I realize, were it not for this thick Lexan. It is prison's familiar torture: looking with mandatory detachment while never being permitted to touch.

I am twenty-eight and still envisioning snowball fights, sledding, those long, nose chilling winter walks around town I used to cherish as much as anything. Almost. With my calf-length coat and the wool scarf without fringe my mother knitted me years into my adulthood, I would stay out for hours — a tiny, dark mote in a sea of white — walking nowhere in particular amid the muffled tranquility. There were sometimes partners with me on those hushed wanderings, whose intentions started out well enough, but whose hands inevitably numbed or teeth chattered, and one whose whole body often ached and shivered, so I'd enfold her in my coat and we would hasten back to the indoors, her saying over and over, "I hate the cold; I hate the cold," and me, oblivious, never recognizing the implications of that until the night she broke me over her knee like kindling.

I have long since forgiven her, but in these early moments of reflection, before the inexorable din of daily prison life crescendos, there is time enough for memories, however tender or sour, and to look eastward, past that fence and the field, the brown grove of trees and the busy highway, to the slowly ascending promise of day.