By Steve Umfrid
They whys of it all escape me
As I lay here on my side,
Arms raised in front of my face
A shield to block the constant light.
Cold seeps through the concrete
Chilling my forearms, knee-caps, feet
Wherever my still body makes contact.
The walls that hold me are ever present
Even with my eyes shut.
There is a quiet, even breath
Another person is in this space
Just a few feet from me
Creating his own dreams of freedom
Biding his own time.
I feel my connection to you
Tugging gently from my center
Unwinding through the night
Steadying my floundering soul.
You say thinking of twenty years ago
Is easier for you to deal with than
Imagining the decades I have left.
But at this moment it all feels like eternity
This one winter is hard for me.
The whys of it all escape me,
Too complex to grasp in my hands,
They trickle through my fingers,
Flow over and around and past me.
When our lives have fallen apart
Will our beliefs sustain us?
Drawing my own breath, I come back
To this moment, this instant in time,
A draft across my cheek, my hip against the mattress.
Someone asked me if I would rather be blind or deaf,
And I couldn’t imagine a life without your smiling face, without your gaze.
The irony is not lost on me
That in this severance
I have found my deepest connection
That which encourages me to reach out.
The whys of it all escape me
But I take solace in knowing
I will never understand the reasons
But they are there all the same.
When our lives fall apart, will our beliefs sustain us?
Steve Umfrid is currently incarcerated in the Valley State Prison in Chowchilla. Despite his circumstances, he manages to transcend the walls that confine him through his writings.