A poem from Juvenile Detention Chaplain Lisa Ashley.

He met his baby niece and toddler nephew

for the first time on that three-day special visit.

Each child was named for him,

the way his brother and sister honored him.

 

His mother wept tears of joy,

her baby son, her youngest child,

her first visit since he was sentenced

six years ago.

 

He’s a grown-ass man now, twenty three,

seven years lost in drab gray rooms,

twenty eight more to go,

all that time no touching allowed.

 

The baby girl grew tired,

fell asleep in the crook of his arm,

her head lolling back,

small feet in white shoes dangling.

 

His slender brown fingers

and muscular arm

cradled her gently

as he gazed into the camera.

 

Deprived of human touch

all the weeks that grew into years,

his body like the dried snake skin

left in the desert sun,

suddenly flushed full

by this flash-flood of child love,

trusting him to hold her

as she abandoned herself to sleep.

 

This moment of gentle touch, soft holding,

deep joy and infinite sadness

mingle in his brown eyes,

caught in the lens.

 

He watched them walk out

the double-locked doors,

standing stock still in the visiting room,

oblivious to the other men and their families.

 

The guard walked him back to his empty cell,

hot stifling air enfolded him.

He sat down on his bunk

missing them already.

 

Walking in the razor-wired yard

he looked up

and watched two eagles

riding the thermals

out there in the Palouse, free

to float where they would.

He wondered what his niece would look like

six years from now.

Would she let him hold her then?

© 2017, Lisa Ashley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© poem, Lisa Ashley

May 8, 2017

 

2 thoughts on “A Child’s Touch

  1. Oh so sad. Very well written. Definitely paints a picture of the lost years of youth into adulthood and the disparities caused in families.

    Like

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