and without remorse,
for 12 to 24,
was unique in that it had a resident cherub.
Well, fuck me.
We hags would crowd around the antiquated barred windows
for a look at the smug little bastard.
There he would sit, in the courtyard like a Canada goose,
his doughy index finger raised as if in divine pronouncement,
and then a moment later he'd be digging for gold
winking at us nags and scolds.
her long black hair carefully braided every morning,
smiling blameless and pure as a saint,
with a kind word for everyone,
drowned the hell out of two just like you, Cherub.
She held their little heads under
as the minutes ticked by.
At Pierzanie, I wished every morning for an ice storm,
so that you would slip and come sliding to us.
The warden's darling you were,
allowed to taunt us and to crap in the flower beds.
You got inside our heads--
half of us wanting to cradle and lull you with melodies
and the other half dreaming of your empty fragile skull
and a thousand ways to stave it in.
I'm free now,
driving a little crap-ass car to a straight job every day.
The smoke from the factory stacks rises into the stagnant sky
and reminds me of Sarah's hair.
The windshield does my crying for me,
the wiper arms furiously sweeping the tears aside.
One morning I stop at a church,
to pray that Sarah's parole board might be composed of idiots
Set her free, I beg.
Set her free to come home to me.
The priest sees my shoulders shaking and he touches me,
saying "dear child, dear child..."
When the hysteria hits and I start to laugh,
he jerks his hand away as if he'd been electrocuted.
I hurry out, half-blind,
out of my mind,
and the baby Jesuses in the stained glass look just like
the cherub of Pierzanie Prison,
except without the deliberate dare in the eyes,
and somehow forgiving, even to us.
for Play it Again Toads. Top photograph by Isadora Gruye.
"pierzanie" is Romanian for perdition, undoing, loss.