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So Like a Cell

August 18, 2011

by Susan Weaver

Two figures pass each other: one
in jeans and hooded retreat,
the other hunched against the world,
left hand pocketed, his right
holding a cigarette, lost
in the beat of his Walkman.
Late afternoon shadows
consume the sidewalk, creep up
a windowless brick wall.
This city street, air squeezed out,
admits no sky, no horizon.
So like a cell, it brings to mind

a Kentucky detention center. Spirals
of steel-blue razor wire, the airless
glass vestibule, a heavy door’s
irrevocable click, the guard
prompting us to empty our pockets.
In sky-colored robe my sister’s son
graduates with the highest score,
earning a scholarship to nowhere.
Afterward, raising a clenched fist
to his nose and breathing deeply,
“Whenever I get outside,” he says,
“I grab me a handful of grass.”


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A journalist, poet and arts-educator, Susan Weaver also answered hotline calls and counseled shelter residents part-time for 12 years at an agency for victims of domestic abuse. Nine years ago, her family suffered its own domestic violence. Weaver’s poems drawing on those experiences have appeared in literary journals (Women’s Way, Main Street Rag, and Survivor) and the sociological journal Violence Against Women. She lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with her husband Joseph C. Skrapits, a painter and writer.

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