I sit with people a while, sometimes in prison

30 Nov 2022

Image: Supplied by Scott the painter


By Jesse Mawson


I sit with people a while, sometimes in prison

On plastic opal chairs 

Bibles in boxes, and too many damn copies of ‘the masterpiece’ in Spanish 

As these bounded books linger, longing to leave 

He enters through this passage 

and sits with me a while 

offering my greetings 

and a handshake so human 

it’s as if it’s enough 

I peer into his eyes 

let him not just slip by 

look beneath the mask 

listen for the true reply 

hear my voice within 

and where his begins 


No oracles, only observations 

questing with open ended questions 

I’m in no rush, or at least I try to be 

tender and gentle, slow, and sturdy 

We talk of peace in the chapel 

Lightning light pervading this place 

Birdsong above 

‘the hustle’ below 

We talk of spiritual sufferings 

And human hopes 

He grieves an aunt 

The third death this march 

I pray for his family and fears 

His anxieties and existential tears 

I pray for peace in this prison 

And courage in his cell 


And when, finally, I am alone 

I pray for myself 

To hear that voice 

Harking back home 

taste and treasure 

The grass and greenery 

The stillness in the sea 

The warmth in this wreck 

And when the pain and problems 

Suffering and sewage 

Reaps wells 

I remember the ‘goldenmouths’ 

Kingdom house: 

“Hell took a body, and discovered God, 

It took earth, and encountered Heaven.” 

And I remember that it is in this valley 

the unveiling is to be done. 


Read more stories from churches of Christ in NSW & ACT HERE