This blog comes to us from one of our IF family in the Washington Correction Center for Women, Tonya Wilson–a gifted writer. This poem she wrote, processing her pain, after she was denied her recent bid for clemency.

There’s an emptiness where
the ache used to be
fathomless to my understanding
commonly held blackest midnight confounds me,
with its startling whiteness, blankness
Stillness, quietness
utter utterlessness.
At odds with its perfect clarity is
my inablity to project meaninfulness
onto it.
Seems to have appropriatesd its old tenant’s
pain. Now, sadness it beckons, eagerly welcomed,
like an old friend.
Is it possible to have more than one life’s sadness,
condensed like common soup?
Mourning, regret, loss, all distilled to the
Dregs of leaden melancholy
This white room of mine. Who’dve thought that pain could be dazzlingly silent like this?

A life ending in the middle of its story
Not all good things come to those who wait
A decade of waiting brings tears and stingingly
Sharp numbness that no amount of crying
Assuaged. I startled at the jagged gash of
sorrow, no rounded corners to this pain, no
Everything winced against its glancing touch.

How does this bottomless well rise up unannounced
Unwelcomed, unbroachable
Incoherent to the dictates of my desire, this
Pain refuses to be ignored one second longer
Astounding, that the drag of such weight
Did not slow my efforts to negate & mitigate
Its existence. Find meaning in its being, I’m told,
when all I really want is for it to GO.

Laugh eat sleep rage run around the pain
Learn knit quip teach pray through it.
Drink kiss scream rant rave about the shit
Cry sigh share care – be aware that it’s there
Joke smoke read walk with the pain.
Even talk about and sometimes converse with it;
Its wit amuses you, its insight moves you
Its significance is not lost on you.
But what can you actually do WITH it? Become one
With it? Build an altar to it. Let it roll over you?
Do you fight it? Is it yours, just because it refuses
To be ignored to go away to abate to find its proper
Perspective-and distance? If it does retreat, if you
Do find relief, if you take care not to repeat lest
It resume-what happens when it is at your door
In your face smiling and with open arms,
Expects a hero’s welcome?
Politely offer it succor & safe haven?
A seat, a drink and a hostess’ hospitality? Act as if
You don’t remember its name? or resign yourself to
Sharing your home, your heart, your nights with it?

3 Responses to “Ness”

  1. Amber Jones
    August 9, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Great job. I remember feeling that way. Keep the faith God is bigger.

  2. Jakqui
    August 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Your words are achingly beautiful and wove themselves about my heart as I read. Thank you for sharing this piece.

  3. Lou Edwards
    April 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you for your beautiful expression of pain. I was seeking to identify with you, as I wrestle with my own recent loss and ensuing pain. For 3 months I have been recycling all the hurt and I realize somehow that I can’t get relief unless I stop going in these circles. I know it is a cyclical deal. I feel such pain, think about what the other people did, what I did, how I was wrong or bad, maybe how they were, too. I always arrive back at the same place; miserable and mad at myself and everyone else. I label myself as bad and wrong and just go in circles. I want to feel better. I need to feel better, but this circle ensures that I can’t get off the Bad Train. I think the answer lies in accepting what happened and accepting myself and the other players. Big job ahead.

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