Poetry Month – April 19

“The Approachable You” My first thought looking at this prompt was how do I make myself approachable? Will my approachability save me from being shot if I drive into someone’s driveway by mistake? And then I thought of Linda, one of the women I know who is an inmate at the Lane Murray Unit in Gatesville, Texas.


“I need to tell y’all something.” Linda’s eyes darted around our small circle. “People tell me I look mean. I’m not mean. I had a stroke a while back and one side of my face is frozen. I can’t smile even when I want to. I’m not mean. I can’t smile.”

The class was silent. Linda had been coming to the class for more than a year. The first time I saw her, I did think she looks mean and tough and scary. She fit the stereotype of a woman behind bars. But here she was telling us something, allowing us to see her, taking us inside the prison of her nerve endings.

She didn’t need to tell us. We could have maintained our slightly judgey distances: her believing we wouldn’t care and us believing she was unapproachable. Now, we are in a different place. I wonder where we will go.