You seemed preoccupied and nervous when we met
for lunch that autumn workday. I reminded you
how good life was now, with decent jobs for you
and Janice, two kids in good health and doing well
in school, a comfortable church community that
honored your musical ability, and back from a recent
vacation to the beach. You sat nonplussed, unbelieving.
Now I know; you were already behind prison walls.
When the family had Thanksgiving, unknown to us
you were beaten down with temptation, already
behind prison walls because you were toying
with a new affair, another forbidden relationship.
With breaking your probation. With infidelity,
abandonment of your wife and kids, on your way
to the penitentiary.
When we visited you on Christmas, you allowed
no discussion of the girl downstairs that Janice
brought up with worry in her voice. Our own
looks of warning bounced off the high stone wall
of your denial. Until you would be ready to change,
ready to take responsibility for your actions, Mike,
you remained locked in your interior prison.
first published in BEHIND PRISON WALLS Chapbook
©2011 Bonnie Manion