Snow Day

Patricia Prewitt


Before five governors closed their ears to my yelps
                        for mercy
Before my name plus number was stamped on my uniforms,
Before Friday night Godfather's Pizza and our Wednesday
                        night special were no longer options,
Before I fitfully slept on steel slabs, cracked plastic,
Before my parents had to take in five lost orphans,
Before I was abruptly addressed by my last name,
Before naked inspection of my flesh was required prior to
                        loving hugs,
Before I was missing from any graduation, wedding,
                        birth, funeral or skating party,
Before my children grew accustomed to moving on without me,
Before heart-bruised Matthew squeezed his teary blue eyes,
                        squeezed the trigger, gave up,

The kids bundled up with socks as mitten liners
                        and plastic bags inside boots
                        while I pulled on Shawn O'Roark's
                        outgrown hand-me-down coveralls,

Before count times marked my tethered routine,
Before I bid farewell to my dying Daddy over a phone,
                        "I didn't get enough of you.”
                        (I hear him breathing.)
                        “Daddy, I love you.”
                        “I already knew that, Honey.”
Before 10 perfect grandkids, who have never seen me outside
                        prison, popped out,
Before MTV, the Great Flood of '93, OJ's slow chase,
                        Nine-eleven, Hurricane Katrina,
                        and the Joplin tornado,
Before other women's children called me mom,

We dove and slid over back roads, narrow bridges
                        until our feet, fingers, chapped faces
                        felt like the crunchy snow had claimed them;
                        chattering over each other, we shucked off
                        a mound of wet winter clothing,
                        migrated to our places
                        at the warm wooden kitchen table;
                        elbows down, leaning in, smiling mouths
                        slurping hot soup, recounting,
                        enhancing every risky maneuver of the morning
unaware that this was our final sledding together.



"'Snow Day' was written as a class assignment for Dr. Beth Charlebois after studying a Grace Cavalieri poem about a prom. In my poem I am attempting to merge past and present into a gut punch."

"66 year old Patricia Prewitt has served 30 years in prison for a murder that she did not commit and is not eligible for parole consideration for another 20 years. She writes and studies through the St. Louis Prison Performing Arts Program. More information about her, and her poetry can be found here."