At the Prison Her Hands Cling to the Sting of the Wires of the Chain Link Fence. Drained Blue Sky. Staring at the Red-Sign of the Prison Gate. The Placard Reads. There is No Unction for the Destitute.

Unslept prison-guard sleeps in his office of wire-chair. She says in a voice gripping
water

I’d like to enter please. The desk inside the foyer empty. She is pressing the
desk-bell

with soft finger tip, the bell-sound lances the room. A blue-uniform stumbles out
from

a fake-wood door. Slow slurred slinky. His voice coils strangely, Please sign in,
he

commands and shuts the door. Waves of loud laughter seep out from behind
that

door. The woman relinquishes her Hancock. Minutes slide down the yellowing
walls.

The Blue-uniform emerges, a line of spittle quivering on his lower lip, he says,
I’m

not really the desk-guy. His smile is a blank check. Where’s the desk guy she
asks.

I can’t find your father, he says. I know he’s here, she says. If he’s not on the
list,

he says, he’s not here. Quiver-smile. He slides a distending tongue across the
span

of his distending lip. She adjusts her mouth to speak, his plastic sneakers squeak,
he

slinks out. Waves of laughter soak the woman in a black wave. Dripping.
Outside

in the splitting sunlight. Daddy is standing in the corner of the prison-yard. Daddy!
she

calls out. Daddy is encroaching the chain-link fence, his eyes are littering his
hands.

His orange jumpsuit reads COCA-COLA across the breast. I’ve been working all
morning,

he says briskly, his face hung in syrup and grease. She says, Dad I came here to
tell

you something. He says, That’s great, glancing at the prison guard near the
entrance,

Come back during visiting hours. An alarm is bouncing into the prison-yard, it
smacks

against the chain-link fence and drips off Daddy’s face turning. His hands, choking
the

fence, are cracked with COCA-COLA syrup. He says, I hope I’ll see you sometime
soon

I’m sorry. He is turning. The smog stirs the trickling ends of her hair. She says,
Dad

I understand. Her Father slithers inside a shapeless grey building, a long shapeless
line

of prisoners. Empty yard, empty woman. At the desk again the forms shapeless.
She

is unseeing the walls buzz, the orchestra of florescent lights peel yellow and
swaying

above her head, the Blue-collar is poured, slumped, against his wood desk shivers in
his

sleep, his snore fetters the air like perfume, a window opening, his dream unrolls like
a

fish in the space she stands clam-like, unseeing the walls buzz, unseeing the lights
chatter

overhead the shapeless form, unseeing the Blue-collar froth in his sleep. She is
smearing

seawater across her clipboard, smearing her ink signature, her body flood. A trail of
seawater

is marking her exit, a snail’s intoxicating signature.

 

 

Vanessa Saunders is the editor-in-chief of Helium Journal. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she is currently an MFA candidate at LSU. She has previously been published in Stockholm Literary Review, Lighthouse journal, Haight Ashbury Literary, and others.

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