Felix’s Laughter

I’ve been missing my qi gong pals in the Metropolitan Detention Center. For the past year or so, I have been leading a class there through the Prison Yoga Project. For obvious health reasons, all such programs are on hiatus until we are on the other other side of this Covid 19 surge. But as I was cleaning my desk (how many of us are cleaning desks at this minute?) I found this piece of automatic writing from when my prisoners and I were experimenting with a movement/writing format. It cheered me up, and felt relevant in this season of remote connection… From the fluorescent lit, windowless chapel of the female ward, some Tuesday afternoon in December:

Felix laughing like the wind–his lungs filling with the air of galaxies inside him, his laughter carrying over sidewalks–Felix’s laughter so free it disrupts, people look out from car windows wondering what is happening, what are these waves rippling through them, what is this loosening in their belly, in their temples, cheeks, why are they smiling? What is getting into them? And some take this glee and start giggling, feel this tap of merriment growing in them–for no reason–for no blessed reason and they roll down their windows and wave and laugh and say hey, brother! And some purse their lips and swallow down this force, it is dangerous, who knows where it will lead, and it gets bitter as it is swallowed, and their bodies stiffen at the taste and some, well, their minds are on different things. Felix laughs and they don’t notice, they are perhaps thinking of their own children, grown now and so far away and how to visit when the laws say this and then the cost is so dear, but they are there, on the other end of the telephone, when the cards and connections work, their voices are transmitted, waves that wiggle up to satellites in space then back down to earth towers and little plastic receivers that travel in back pockets and should not fall out in toilet water. The waves of their children’s laughter, the taste of the fruit of summer, let’s hope they are thinking about this.

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