In a more innocent time, I had a pen pal in prison named Leah Jack who seemed to me to be an extraordinary person. I wanted to make the world a better place by being a better person, one who cared about other people. I cared about Leah Jack. I wrote her this letter poem in 1992.
You say you will be in this prison for a long time over a lot of drugs.
You have been my friend for over three years now.
In letters sent between Ohio and a prison in California.
I did not ask how or why.
I wrote to you, and you to me. Many times.
We found we both play at art, lift weights, forget to lift weights, and read science fiction
We are both dedicated to growth, God and Goodness,
Working really hard to maintain good attitudes towards all others.
Sister, though you are young, you are much in a very small space. You are Mother of Sons, College Student of the State, Indian Woman, Sweat Lodge Leader, Published Author,
and Co-Facilitating Counselor for the Breaking Barriers Program.
I try to understand how you can live in prison and I see your Balance in Rigid Chaos.
You wrote of the institution which still doesn't understand.
The Indian traditions and heritage.
I believe it can be discouraging.
You pray a lot, and keep your goals centered on positive outcomes.
I saw your struggle to get some time alone for meditation.
You often told me you were thinking of me in your prayers.
When I was ill, you reminded me to take good care of myself
You wrote of the Razor Wire Sweat Lodge Ceremony,
Of your twenty-four hour fast, the singing and prayer,
Of sweet grass burning outside on the fire,
Of dippers of water poured onto hot lava rocks inside,
Of women sitting rounds in the hot steam, communing in unbroken circles,
Of rubbing sage leaves on your body for purification,
Of maintaining yourself with humility during the sweet,
Of biding farewell, feeling physically refreshed, clean, and peaceful.
You remembered me in the sweat circle.
You said I was a special friend
Something like an older sister you never had.
You had only brothers.
You had your lodge sisters there though too.
You were thankful for us all.
I saw your love of the group,
And all it stands for.
Last year I wrote,
Take care my friend,
May your spring be gentle.
Each year I continue to send what I have,
A Sister's Love.
I too have prayers,
I pray for your release from prison.
May Freedom soft, fresh, and sweet, find you soon.
by Annmarie Throckmorton 2018