The visitation chamber fills with black men who take a seat behind the reflective divider. A lover presses her hand against the glass. A mother sobs into a crackling phone that’s bolted to the wall. Babies point at weathered faces that look like theirs. I am in a room full of mirrors as I stare at your soft, hardened faces behind the windowpane’s scratched plastic. In unison, empty promises echo through each telephone line, tales of a better life once they escape, not knowing that when one brother goes another takes his place. The loop keeps us staring at our reflections–the faces of the men who look like us, talk like us, laugh like us, hurt like us.  I am in a room full of you, full of us, as the same stories repeat from each corner, weaving us into one person, one story, one central barrier for us to push through together.

Diamond Braxton (@DiamondGBraxton) is a queer, Black-Latinx writer with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. She has work published in The Acentos Review and was a 2020 Tin House Scholarship Craft Intensive Winner. She currently resides in Houston, Texas where she works as an associate prose editor for Defunkt magazine.

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