Transference by Laura Foley

Transference

The inmate says he wants
to smash someone’s head
against a concrete floor.

My brother’s stolen
my land, and here I am
stuck in jail.

His face is livid,
his fist twitching.
We spend all day

meditating in silence;
eight hours in a quiet room
with a concrete floor,

I breathe his anger in.
The next morning,
my neck’s so stiff and sore,

I have to hold my head
with my hands to save my neck
from its weight.

The inmate punches a guard,
is strait-jacketed,
taken upstate.

Six months till my head
and neck exhale, six months
to heal the ache.

by Laura Foley, first published in Mom Egg Review.

Editor’s Note: Sometimes empathy isn’t enough.

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