Prison Break 2015

Yesterday my friend calls & says she is worried
because the prisoners who escaped
from Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York
are possibly 70 miles from the next town over. She says
every creak, every gust. Her daughters
are two and one and I know she is trying to memorize
their fingerprints in case the escaped prisoners
zero in on her particular house
and abscond with her two daughters,
though neither of the them has any known history
of kidnapping or child abuse.
One of her daughters has whorl pattern prints,
my friend says, and the one who favors her husband
has simple loops. I realize then that I don’t know anything
about my own fingerprint pattern and that maybe
I’ll never be a mother. I listen as she tells me
she knows it’s crazy, she knows they are likely
not in her town, but I’m thinking instead
about how these men choreographed their route,
about all the failed attempts that preceded
their success, about all the stories
and all the genetic memory twisted up inside
each of them. If you burn the pads of your fingers
and toes, are your prints forever blurred? How many
ways are there to crawl down a tunnel
and emerge, arms outspread, on the other side?

Claire Kiefer is a writer and educator living in the Bay Area. She received her MFA in Poetry from San Francisco State University in 2007 and works in the education program of a nonprofit oral history book series.

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