Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

They called me to the Mayor’s complex at noon on this cold day.
Walking the hall I kept wondering what they had to say.

I walked in the Mayor’s office,
making small talk as though we are friends.

Finally she said do you have a son named Tommy Jackson the Third?
I didn’t quite understand what I’d just heard.

She said he passed away…
I don’t remember much more as she began to pray.

Passed away? He’s only eleven!
She offered comfort, saying something about Heaven.

Couldn’t cry too much had to pretend to be okay.
Didn’t want to get a referral to the prison psych ward.

After getting the news couldn’t see my family face to face
because COVID-19 hindered visitors from coming to this God awful place.

I didn’t get the privilege of going to his service because due to COVID-19 furloughs were on hold.
Everything about me was numb, including my soul.

It’s been almost two years and I’m still waiting to mourn.
I’m dressed in sadness and regret has my heart torn.

Missing his funeral, I have no words to explain.
Just regret, shame, hurt but most of all unbearable pain.

Imagine losing a child you’ve failed.
And there’s nothing I can do because I’m sitting in jail.

No church, no family, no gravesite, just a program by mail.
I can’t mourn my baby from a cold prison cell.

Dear parole board, can I go mourn my son?
No, not until your sentence is done!

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.

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Cheryl L. Jackson

Cheryl L. Jackson is a writer who is paving a new path. She writes because she is tired of being isolated, unheard, muzzled, invisible and ignored. Cheryl is incarcerated in Texas.