Doing One More Thing

When I went to a women’s spiritual retreat, I forgot to take my Bible. Ironic, I know. I explained to my friend that I thought I had time to do “one more thing,” and then I forgot an item central to my purpose.

The “one more thing” was typing a poem for my pen pal, Adrian, who is incarcerated in a Georgia prison. Last week was his 8th anniversary there, so at age 31 he has 22 more years to go. He is a writer, and I started writing him to encourage him in his Christian life and his writing life. It snowballed into requests to type his voluminous output–from 14-line poems to novels.

I can’t keep up with his prolific writing. He cannot have access to a word processor, so those of us on the outside are his only way of getting his words in print on the road to publication. He has talent, but talent that needs to be honed and refined as only a good writing teacher or editor can do. Sometimes I give him suggestions, but for the most part I type it as he has written it. His grammar and spelling are excellent; there’s no matter of corrections needed. But his metaphors are often mixed, his series not parallel, his description lacking in detail.

I see his struggles with the other inmates, with his family on the outside, with himself. What I do for him is miniscule in comparison to his needs. He has my prayers and encouragement, and occasionally I seize a few minutes to type some of his poems. It’s the best I can do in response to Jesus’ reply to the sheep on his right, “I was in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25:36).

So here’s Adrian’s poem that was the “one more thing” I did on Friday.

The Death Not Seen

Fallen sighs in a darkened cube,
Hands groping for a doorknob, a windowsill, something or some way out.
Darkness is too much for the ones trapped.
Silence is compounded
Every sound is magnified.
Heartbeats become thunderclaps.
And all they can see are two orbs of jaundiced gold,
Staring at them out of the ebony veil.
No sound, just those two orbs
Piercing, probing, penetrating, petrifying.
Suddenly a scream shatters the darkness
And then another scream and another and another.
A new color pierces the black.
Splotches and splashes and spills of viscous crimson.
Shadows of limbs soaring.
The crashing of objects
The wails of the dead.
Then once again silence.
–Adrian English