Life without Parole

By Karen Wolf

Posted on

Hope slips through fingers
like time spent waiting
often just a tick ahead,
visible, but elusive.
Or it hangs back like a stopped clock
no longer viable.

Hope survives fire, preserved
beneath blackened structures
housing every possession.
It resides beneath blankets
of the terminally ill until handfuls of dirt
hit casket lids.
It drips down the sides of chilled
liquor bottles and heroine needles
passing through moments, days, years of addiction.

Hope does not reside in a fear-frozen rabbit
before the hawk descends,
nor in dry
corn stalks waiting for rain.
Hope grows within human souls.
It sets us apart, keeps us alive.

Steel doors enclose him forever.
There is no hope for a lifer.
He will spend 60 plus years
never thought to be better than his worst moment.
Kindness to fellow prisoners and guards,
knowledge gained for personal growth,
feelings of remorse and guilt for his crime
mean nothing,
betterment of his situation…
impossible, given a sentence of revenge,
a life devoid of a point, a reason, a direction.
Stress and depression will dull his mind.
Lack of exercise, proper food, and sleep
will shrivel his body.
And the absence of hope will wither his soul.
A most torturous demise.

Karen Wolf