Usually our blogs focus on the narrative of a project, what we did, what people learned. This blog will do that too but in a slightly different way with photographs and a group poem.
Life for women who have just left prison can be chaotic. They are passing from a time when all their moments are accounted for to an in-between phase where they have more options and responsibilities but nothing is fully-formed. They are beginning the slow process of re-engaging with the world and looking for somewhere to put their roots. Aspirations bud in them but are not yet blooming. Occasionally one or more of the women catch the light. It is then they become dazzling.
I think this poem, told in the voices of the individuals and the women’s collective voice and inspired by the activities they engaged in over the course of the project at Ripon House Bail Hostel reflects this.
Colours For A Better Future
Only you can stop you.
Scrub your past and make it sparkle.
Don’t look back. Look to the future.
Replace negative thoughts with positive.
Prepare yourself for new adventures.
Prove them wrong.
Set goals you can achieve.
We’ll make recipes for the future,
laugh and see things differently –
bald men in a caff who mirror
the photo of sculptures above them.
Collect apples for crumble,
draw hearts and symbols, spiralling
galaxies from my pen,
pause in tunnels of trees
or at the edge of bowling greens.
Write the name of my daughter over and over.
I’m going to prove I’m off the drugs,
get a house, furnish
with what my daughter chooses.
There’ll be scatter cushions in the bedroom,
a deep skirting board,
a magic touch to make it bright,
a soothing place for tea not beer.
Catch the train into Headingley
for a romantic, sensual afternoon in a hotel.
– like coral, all the colour washed out,
point out the animal backs.
Watch the cogs and chains
– life’s slow turn when things are good.
Call us Jan Goff and Debrant.
Go on a 10 day cruise
or get a camper van, just go –
always on the move.
Keep our treasures close to our chests.
We’ll bake bread,
bejewel the union jack,
Snap, snap – photograph each other
beside disappearing women
and lady hares – trace the objects that make her up,
make beautiful spindly flowers
of school chairs on stilts,
funny poems about yellow trainers.
Shine colourful like me.
Becky and Milena