This graduation day my son wears no cap and gown.
He wears prison issue blues
and his felony in life
brings an apostrophe of family together.
Rows of chairs spill over blue-clad
inmates’ hard faces –
their shaved expressions
like miniature Mount Rushmores
that show the heroin,
the meth, the toxic relationships
of their lives.
My son, Christmas present to me,
brought to life with a hefty cry,
in his denim uniform blues
as he winks and flirts at his freedom
like a moth to an incandescent light.
I stand at the podium and speak of hope
and second chances.
Months later I see him at the Starbucks
across from the downtown Italian restaurant,
and I don’t recognize him.
His posture and face grown old,
I offer him a meal at the Virginia Café.
Inside the restaurant through wet panes of glass,
I see the silhouettes of rain-soaked trees
that remind me of the sea of blue,
inmates reaching toward freedom’s light,
dreaming of release –
life’s castaways –
moths caught in their own flames.