E. J. Henstenberg – Summer 2012

Excerpt from Summer 2012

E.J. Henstenberg


Summer “behind the fences.”  Another three months of being slow-cooked in concrete ovens as the “heat monitors” come and declare 109 degrees acceptable with a cup of cold water!  And yet, still blessed even in this.  Trying to think “cool thoughts” is harder than it sounds when all one can fathom is the incredible, unrelenting, exhausting heat of each successive day!  And yet this too shall pass… if we wait long enough!  The cool days of september and October seem so far away at the moment… they sound like fairy tale kingdoms.  And it’s so much harder for some than others….


Like the “world”… prison is far easier for the “rich” than the “poor.”  In here, the poor seem to suffer many times over for their “crimes,” while those with resources and support are able to buy cold ice-creams & sodas.  High-powered fans.  Comfortable t-shirts and shorts.  $10.00 Sunscreen.  etc. etc. etc.  In here, also, the haves and have-nots,… only the “class differences” much more pronounced and the resentments much more aggressive.

Just last night.  In the day-room.  After a day of heat in the midst of weeks of heat.  Someone perceives a slight done to me… disrespect about my cup of cold water.  I didn’t pay it any notice.  So many strained nerves all around.  I say, “It doesn’t matter.”  And “Let it go.”  But he goes over and beats the “offender” up without the slightest mercy.  I am embarrassed and ashamed and scared.  This is the reality of prison and SUMMER in prison.  Today, the offender comes and apologizes and begs my forgiveness…with his swollen eyes, and broken lip and boot marks on his neck.  I SHOULD BE ASKING HIS FORGIVENESS!  And what of the one who goes astound doing the beating?  Happy-go-lucky…. and sleeping well… as usual.  I want to weep but there is too much to weep for and not enough tears.