Faith Behind Bars and Beyond is honored to be able to present creative works by prisoners, ex-offenders, and their families.

The guards in my mother's prison

The guards in my mother's prison
always told her that 
she didn't
belong.
Lavender caught in concrete
she was hope in a place 
where love isn't
found, 
tulips behind bars.

7 years old 
and I couldn't smell 
her
bouquets 
through the phone. 

First grade the teacher asks
for 8 letters to
your mommy,
class writes 
"I love you"
I write
"Criminal",
carve it into
bathroom stall doors
during recess,
gardening walls
with what I didn't know
was poetry
so I could close my eyes
and smell roses. 
8 more letters
spell
"I miss you,"
she signs below it 
"love mom." 

I'm not sure if that
love is stretched thin
across the 84 miles between us,
and I'm not sure 
if
carnations keep their pigment
after 706 days without sunlight.
I pray they do.


And then suddenly 
she's coming home
and I pray they don't, 
that her
vibrancy is faded 
like the dead flower petals 
she left all over the house.


My mother blossoms amongst
a withering family.
She does not notice
the
dead soil
beneath a daughter
she used to 
know.

When Michaela Godding recited her poem "The guards in my mother's prison" at the 2015 Prison Forum she received a standing ovation. Michaela's mother was not the only one with tears in her eyes.