It’s medicine-red, and vaguely tastes like cherry kool-aid; they don’t waste sugar down at 201 Poplar.
I haven’t had any Percocet since 6:30 this morning.
Poplar is the Memphis City Jail. I hear it’s a little nicer on the
women’s side. My clothes and hair are soaked with sweat, my wet hair
burns the skin where it falls down on my face.
Years from now, I will work at a counseling center, and I will say things like: “The only way out is through.”
now, I haven’t had any Percocet since 6:30 this morning. I hate people
who say things like: “The only way out is through.” I’m throwing
unsweetened kool-aid down my blistered throat, I’m picking a cockroach
that vaguely tastes like cherry kool-aid off my tongue.
December 22, 1989. I’ve shit brown rice-water since 8:30 this morning
when I ran out of Percocet. My head is squealing, my guts are roaring,
my ass feels torn and raw. I flick the cockroach across the cell,
trembling, but not from horror as I should.
looks like a bologna sandwich, sort of. I’m lying on a bed, of sorts, a
concrete slab attached to a concrete wall like an afterthought. It’s
three days before Christmas, I’m here for forging a prescription after
I ran out of Percocet. I stink, I’m sweat-soaked, I’m puking in a metal
the holidays the rules have been relaxed on the women’s side of the
jail; the cell doors have been left open as a reminder, the only way
out is through.
squeaking mop bucket rolls up and down the halls, but most of the noise
is metal hitting metal and women bitching about their baby’s daddy; now
and then I hear “red for violent, yellow for nonviolent” spoken like an
oath. The women talk about their babies like an afterthought.
I’ve never been in jail before. I think I’m the only woman here wearing a yellow wristband.
of the women can’t make bail, so they’ve been here awhile—the women
who’ve been here longest have privileges, they can go anywhere on this
floor, as long as they have chores to do, like mopping. Most of them
are wearing red wristbands.
legs are tangled in a mildewed sheet, my pants are balled up on the
floor. A squeaking mop bucket rolls in and out of every cell.
cells are all left open and the guards relax; the other women talk
easily with the guards, like they’ve all been here before. I’m
sweat-soaked, naked from the waist down, my heart is pounding in my
ears. It’s been about 12 hours since I had any Percocet.
lying on my stomach, it hurts too much to move; someone with a red
wristband rolls a mop bucket into my cell. My eyes are closed, I’m
listening for a mop head swishing water on the floor.
now I’m lying on my stomach gasping grunting she’s tearing skin still
sore and raw from shitting since 8:30 with the handle of a mop—
It’s December 22, 1989. I never saw her face. It’s Christmas in the Memphis City Jail.
legs are tangled in a mildewed sheet spotted with my blood and brown
rice-water. Wheels are squeaking up and down the
halls, she’s gone, without a face, without a reason.
now I’m balled up on a concrete slab, sobbing without making any sound,
and the noise of women bitching about their baby’s daddy and metal
hitting metal goes on like before.
201 Poplar is the Memphis City Jail; this is the women’s side.
I hear it’s a little nicer than the men’s side of the jail.