The other day for lunch, I was given an apple. This in itself is not interesting since Warden Williams came on, we have had apples exclusively for breakfast lunch and dinner every single day even when we plead for no more apples, the guards will lay them on our bars or push them in our cells. These apples are not necessarily impressive, unless you’re impressed by tiny, mushy or way too large and bruised apples…if so you are in for a treat. A mushy bruised treat! Yum!
So a few days ago, as the guards were dumping their apple quota down our throats, a tiny thing was placed on my bars. This fella looked sickly; a dull red like it had been ran through the wash too many times, a miniature wax duplicate of an actual apple. Typically an apple of this quality would be launched down the tier towards the guard station, but I grasped it. I noticed something peculiar…this wee creature wasn’t a typical Williams Apple this one had a leaf STILL ATTACHED!!
Imagine my surprise and delight! How did I get so lucky to witness this sigil of determination and survival? After sharing my joy with the tear and being rebuffed as an Eco-jackass I sat down to meditate on this apple leaf combo…please share my Wonder for one moment.. this apple was picked up in Washington (according to the sticker) along with hundreds or thousands of its siblings, rivals, comrades. After being pulled from mother tree with rough yet affectionate hands, our ap(PAL)lol was tossed in a box or a bucket, driven to a processing plant, hosed down, ran through a conveyor belt, and then finally packaged up to be sent into the world to be devoured by convicts. Once packaged, our PAL would be bussed to a storage facility, then bussed again to this old decrepit (sic) prison. After arriving here, the apple crates would be brought to the kitchen, emptied in a big metal bowl for washing, then put into crates to be carried to SHU to be passed out by busy officers.
Throughout all of that action, our little leaf clung to its Apple companion, it’s stuck together even though countless circumstances conspired to separate them. I may sound #soft but the beauty of this made me emotional, we don’t have to let outside forces break us, separate us from our goals. I wanted to mail the PAL to my wife and kiddos, share my inspiration but PAL is bureau “property” and I would have been giving a disciplinary write up (shot) for both, stealing government property, using the mail for criminal activity, and trying to inspire joy and others…very serious accusations.
Although this may sound audacious, the theme is very real. Prison serve uninspiring, dangerously unhealthy and starchy foods, to promote laziness and apathy. Prisons lock down joy and anything that’s remotely inspiring. With inspiration comes the knowledge that 1) you do not deserve this and 2) you don’t have to stand for it. Prisons expressly punish and try to tear apart families…being moved across the country, having very limited and expensive phone calls, making visiting as audaciously expensive and frustrating as possible…the goal is to make loving you way too much of an inconvenience for your family and supporters. To make yourself worth plummet to where you sink into prison life, feeling undeserving of Love friendship or a future…prisons exist to break families, shatter spirit, destroy hope…they’ve got centuries of experience and their agents are well trained in psychologically dismantling un-sturdy foundations…they will find loose bricks.
Apple showed me what I know and that prison tries to blind us to…. That we can survive intact. They can ship us far away from our families, handle us roughly, send us through the bureau conveyor belt, pack us in like beasts…but they underestimate our will. They’ve never known revolutionary strength and solidarity in their hearts…they’ve never known what it is like to truly feel loved not just by family (who are stronger and more loving than prisons could ever dream) but by friends and even comrades who are strangers our enemies will never experience what you and I have known all along…. They can hurt us, but they will never lay a finger on our love, hope and joy we are stronger than any prison torture -EK