Elaine sits stoically
at the chipped pentagon shaped table
in 3 North.
One floor above,
in 4 North,
her daughter paces a walkway – also chipped.
Astonishingly, her mother is also here –
in a brick and mortar wing
reserved for the terminally ill
yet indefinitely incarcerated.
About seven miles
to the west
Elaine’s son hangs his fingers lazily
on chain link topped in coiled barbs.
The lineage of her family tree
behind concrete block, glass windows and metal wire.
It began in 7th grade.
An adolescent’s argument
with a teacher
in a struggling school of repeaters
to find other ways to get an education.
Today, she faces me.
Pencil and paper in hand,
she struggles to complete a seven-sentence paragraph
about a habit in her life
she desires to change.
Tears drop silently onto her paper
as she wrestles
to organize details
that can be the evidence
she will break this cycle
and free her grandchildren
from the ancestry
which has been their story thus far.