To be published in Heron Dance by jane davis Copyright © 2000 All rights reserved. The following writing may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any way including electronically, without the prior written consent of the author.

A Slice of Death ... Row

As i sat with Larry, a few days before his scheduled execution on 1/21/00 the man to my right, surrounded by his family was given some final instructions. His execution date was set for the next night. He did not realize that he could have all day visits. It was a little too late for him now. The man to my left was scheduled to die on 1/24. From death row, Billy had gotten certified in Braille and helped the blind as well as published a horse training manual. Many who worked with him had no idea he was on death row. Across the cages from us was another man whose family had been wandering around all day visiting their loved one whose date was for that night. i have searched for the words to try to express some of the surrealness that is part of life on death row.

In the army or camp or retreats when reveille blows, one knows automatically it is signaling a time. Time to rise and shine.

Amidst all the chatter, the noise from the fans, the hollow clanging of doors, the echo of voices reverberating off concrete walls and floors came a sound that signaled only one thing. The sound was a cry, a moan, a shriek, a wail - an inhuman noise that is the sound of a mother about to lose her child. It is the sound that announces, "It is 12:30 PM at Ellis Unit 1" ... death row ... and it is the final good-bye, said through a pane of glass ribbonned with wire, of a mother to her son.

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