Material Witness will focus on extreme textile process. Images will be posted here showing the history of my work, new work, developing projects and inspiration.

Friday, May 6, 2011



Side Garden

Honesty blossoming where everything happened

This morning I was excused from court as a witness to a violent crime. The man, more like a boy, pleaded guilty and my memory was no longer needed. This is a good thing for me. He, however, will be going to prison.

I remember looking at him while he was sitting in handcuffs on my front walk and thinking that his mother had put so much time into him. He was clean, his teeth were straight, his clothing was pressed and he had a healthy glow around him. Angelic looking. He was also so young.

The police dogs had practically torn him apart and he was woozy from fear and pain. The next morning I went outside and the walkway at the side of my house was covered in blood. So was the side of my house. There wasn't just a little blood. There were streams of clotted blood. I have had a hard time gardening in that area since then. I still startle when a dog barks near the house at night and I wake up to little noises that didn't wake me before.

I did something I shouldn't have done. I intervened. I distracted the cops from hurting him further by asking them if they were o-kay. It seemed to calm down the fury. A mother voice from the top of the stairs. A witness. The young cops looked at me and so did the young criminal. Both tried to reassure me it was o-kay. But it wasn't. They all looked ashamed.

I know his name now and he knows mine and so do the young officers. This is no longer an anonymous late night event. People plead guilty when they don't have the money to do otherwise. He will go to jail for something he did related to money.

As a former street social worker I have watched as well loved children were taken to jail the first time. I know what happens to them and how they look just a few weeks later. The crustiest ones crumpled in spirit. I have worked with them again when they have been there for a few years. I know jail just doesn't work very well to make things any better.

The Vikings did it better. They sent their difficult young off to explore and to benefit Viking society. The wild ones went off to do the pillaging. Elders knew it was better than keeping them at home in sleepy villages. They knew that "wild ponies make the best horses".

I am the mother of four sons. Two biological and two step-sons. Some are a bit wild. Sometimes. I know that they all got into trouble but were decent enough to have discretion.
They scraped by but didn't collide with the law in a serious way. They grew up in the Inner City and they saw and knew what could happen. I didn't raise them to be innocent and completely protected. An impossible act here. They knew who did what and who to avoid.

I had this fear that they might do something wrong and come face to face with the dogs.

I got the phone call excusing me and I instinctively went out to the side of my house where it happened. A beautiful bouquet of flowers has thrived despite my neglect. I am not usually a cryer but I did. I hope he survives jail, that his victim recovers, that the cops stay responsive to human pain. I hope his mother makes it through this with love.

Happy Mother's Day to the mothers of boys. Happy Mother's Day to his mother and the mothers of the young cops. It is hard to raise good men. We all did our best.

No comments: