Tuesday, January 24, 2006


The baby is tiny. She is a little girl without a name yet born to a mother in custody. As a sergeant, I check in on the deputies assigned to duty outside the jail- at hospitals and birthing centers, for instance. So there I met this tiny child.

I ask and the mother gives me permission to hold the baby's hand. The hand is so tiny, with long fingers. The child has huge dark eyes and dark hair. Bright eyes. She grips my finger in her fist and tries to pull it to her mouth, her baby attempt at controlling her world. For a second, I'm caught by the image of our hands, the uncalloused fist wrapped around the stubby, scarred finger. For just a moment, it is a perfect image: she is weak and I am strong; she is defenseless and I exist to defend; she is precious in her unlimited possibility and I am dedicated through experience...

It's just an image, though. I can't protect her. Her unlimited possibilities are at the mercy of a mother who may be too addicted to care for her; a father who may or may not be there (and sometimes not is better). Her delicate hands and delicate brain will depend for life and love and her very idea of what it means to be a person on a mother who is hoping the birth of the baby will sway someone- a judge, her PO, someone- into letting her out of jail early. I wish I was sure that she wanted to be out of jail for the baby and not for something else.

So I sit here wishing the best for all the unnamed little babies of the world.

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