Home | Poetry | About Mary Fumento | Professional | Albums | Essays


The concrete slabs allow for little movement; they stand seven tall, eight feet wide, and surround on three sides. The fourth wall greets with iron bars that hold secure. No window be found, and yet an eerie draft whistles in from somewhere.

Dismal, gray paint clings to the concrete like a funeral robe, draping the floor, the ceiling and the walls in flaking remorse. A plop of an incessant drip of foul water echoes across the room. A bitter, nauseating stench emanates from the decrepit latrine in the corner. One can almost taste the acid and grit from rusty plumbing.

Ancient pipes thrust through the sturdy walls and create senseless fissures that stretch for several feet in an unintelligible pattern. Another drip splashes on the floor with a metallic sound.

Staunch and ungiving stands a wooden bench. A moldy blanket with a U.S. Army Surplus tag and fifteen stands of fringe cringes against the sturdy bench legs.

The naked light bulb stares with an unblinking eye, interrogating and mocking until one is forced to look away. The air stamps with dead weight at heavy lungs until breathing is but another labor, forced and unnatural.

The drip continues in an unsoothing repetition.

A miniscule beetle resides beneath the bench, and like a tiny preacher he rubs his legs together and shakes his head. If a person stares at the iron bars long enough, the lines lose their individuality and merge together to form a solid sheet of metal.

Without a concept of time or external life, the barren cell becomes a freakish carnival to the stagnant mind.

The light bulb initiates a hum like a field of grasshoppers, and the drip answers with a plop, plop, plopping.

Have the walls crept closer together? Strange shadows appear from nowhere.

Footsteps shatter the solitude like a clanging cymbal. A bodiless hand shoves a tin plate under the barred entrance, and the invisible visitor drifts away down the corridor. The plate of shapeless something emits the odor of perhaps glue and kerosene as it oozes across the tin.

Mercifully, the light bulb flickers like an extinguished flame and leaves darkness. The inky air floats all around, surrounding and smothering. The silence bounces from wall to wall until a person feels like he is swaying on his feet.

Resting on the rigid bench allows little comfort.

The unforgettable cell has evaporated into nothingness.

Perhaps the concrete and iron have magically disappeared. Yet before one can take advantage of any such freedom, a tiny drop of water dives from the ceiling and douses dreams of liberty.
- Mary O. Fumento, 1987

Fragments | Imagery | Elements | Hope | Passages | Light | Eclipse | Reflections | Passion