Quote

As a child I played in the mansion where the warden
of the Stillwater prison and his family lived
The house was staffed by convicts
those who proved through good behavior while incarcerated
that they were trustworthy
able to spend time cooking, cleaning, cutting the grass, shoveling snow
at the big house next to the big house
cutting grilled cheese sandwiches into triangles
for the warden’s daughter and her friends
helping us on with our snowsuits and mittens

We’d snake Slinkys down the grand staircase
as one of the inmates swept and polished the hardwood floors of the atrium beneath us
We’d run through massive piles of yellow leaves
raked high by men in orange jumpsuits
Until one day
one inmate proved not to be trustworthy after all
and turned the warden into a prisoner of a prisoner
by holding his family hostage

After so much time spent tying her shoes and drying her tears
did my small friend’s fear
illicit at least one more perfect grilled cheese triangle
and a tender brush of his lips to her forehead
before he was dragged out of the big house in cuffs
to be put back in the big house evermore?

Julie Ayers
July 2011

Conviction

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