Barbara Ruth
Some Friends of Mine

I’d like you to meet some friends of mine


women I write to

women in prison.

Last year I decided corresponding with them was a good way to continue my political work

being too disabled to go to meetings or to demonstrations.

Valerie was the first

a Cherokee-Chicana femme doing long time in Nevada prison.

An artist without art supplies,

she sends me cross-hatch portraits of her sister inmates

rendered with ballpoint on lined paper so thin it tears.

She has cystic fibrosis

at 26 she’s getting old

for someone with CF.

She tries not to think about what that means.

After all, she says,

no one at the jail thinks she’s disabled.

Her job includes scrubbing the bathrooms with bleach

three times a week.

I try to figure a way

to smuggle in a charcoal mask.