The guards in my mother's prison
by Michaela GoddingThe 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.