AND THEN THE PANDEMIC BEGAN
and changed some things. first the prison
prohibited all visitors. now my family
couldn’t visit even if they tried. next the prison
closed our barbershops, so many of us look like mangy savages.
then the prison issued uniform masks to us, flimsy black
fabric behind which we can relax
the veneers of indifference we’d kept flexed on our faces.
to reward us for not rioting, the prison started playing
Movies from Netflix every day. then posed a memo
to warn us that any noncompliance with coronavirus
restrictions will be punished: to get too close
to anyone now is to pay a ten-dollar fine plus weeks in the hole.
the prison is enforcing — not just facilitating social isolation.
to gauge the mandated spacing we may stand apart extending our arms toward each other. our fingers may not touch.
that’s six feet.
the right distance is as long as the grave is deep.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.