Visitation Tank

“No excessive emotionalism will be permitted”

Author / Tara Skurtu
Photograph / Tim Eastman
16 May 2017

The sign above the entrance:
Through these doors pass
the finest law enforcement
officers in Florida
. I hand over
my identification, receive station 35.
Two rows of steel stools bolted
to concrete in a windowless room.
No excessive emotionalism
will be permitted:
Rule 17.
We all sit waiting for a different
low-resolution face to replace
the shadows of our own on the unlit
monitors. The woman behind me
tells me about her old man.
He’s in here because he shot
my dog, you know—but he’s not dead,
the dog
. She can’t afford to answer
his calls. My screen powers up
to an orange plastic chair, countdown
by seconds in the corner. A girl
next to me drops the receiver,
walks out. Her man looks down
at his hands. Six minutes pass.
Amber enters from the left, rubbing
her eyes. Fifty-three minutes, six seconds.
Twenty years ago when the four of us
lived in that one-bedroom apartment
on Jenkins Road, Dad would drive us
in his beat-up Dodge Ram right past
this jail—red cooler propping up
the driver’s seat as we buoyed
down Rock Road onto the dead-end
dirt road, through the orange groves,
to the quarry. We swung from the hook
of a rusted crane and ran together
off cliffs, stretching into unnamed
shapes as we fell and slapped
the warm water. Here Dad discovered
the mud was clay, dropped handfuls
of it into a bucket, and in our little kitchen
we molded and baked on a cookie sheet
abstract faces that fit, warm
and smiling, in our palms.

#tara skurtu #poetry

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