Charles Manson Didn’t Get Parole Today and You Fear I Don’t Love You Anymore

Charles Manson Didn’t Get Parole Today and You Fear I Don’t Love You Anymore

by Stephen S. Mills

Fear that my heart has grown as cold as steel
bars in a prison in California that holds an old
man tight in his cell. A man who once believed
in a city of gold under Death Valley. Beautiful,
sparkling gold. An escape beneath the ground
for when the race riots would begin. It’s dramatic,
this way of thinking, this way of speaking,
and you know it. Say it only to get me going,
to make me repeat how much I love you,
want to be with you. Love you enough to visit
in prison, if you ever ended up there,
which is actually a more likely fate for myself:
red hair and temper. No, Manson didn’t get parole
today. No one expected him to. This was probably
his last shot. He’ll be dead by the next hearing,
or so the journalists predict. Madness doesn’t
seem nearly as scary on the face of an old man,
which would probably make me a bad person
to be on a parole board. Another career gone
before it even began. Today, you make me
promise that I’ll be yours until the day I die,
but a lifetime can seem endless. No clear middle
or end, especially for men like Manson.
I like to think of him pacing his cell reading
Valley of the Dolls over and over again. The cover
creased and bent. The faded pink appearing almost
vivid in the dank light of prison. How silly of me
to think of him in that way, almost as silly as you
sitting here terrified that one day I’ll leave you,
which, of course, I might. We just don’t know how.
The hand of a murderer? A car crash? Cancer?
Or maybe the slamming of a prison door: gone,
but not dead. Left alone to rot, to read the same
book over and over until I can recite every line,
until all I see is pink, then stark white.

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