AMANDA COYNE Profile - AMANDA COYNE(b 1966 an award-winning...

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AMANDA COYNE (b. 1966), an award-winning staff writer for the Anchorage Press , earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. She wrote “The Long Goodbye,” her first piece of published writing, for a 1997 issue of Harper's , a monthly general-interest magazine covering politics, culture, and the arts. She is now writing a memoir and has read her essays on National Public Radio's popular program All Things Considered . As Coyne explains in this essay, her observations are based on a visit to a minimum-security women's prison where her sister is incarcerated and where Coyne has visited her before. The sister had been imprisoned without the possibility of parole (opportunity for early release) for aiding a drug dealer. As you read, pay particular attention to Coyne's focus on two inmates, Jennifer (her sister) and Stephanie, and their relationships with their young sons, whom they now see only on rare prison visits like the one described in this profile. The Long Good-Bye: Mother's Day in Federal  Prison Amanda Coyne 1 You can spot the convict-moms here in the visiting room by the way  they hold and touch their children and by the single flower that is  perched in front of them — a rose, a tulip, a daffodil. Many of these  mothers have untied the bow that attaches the flower to its silver- and-red cellophane wrapper and are using one of the many empty  soda cans at hand as a vase. They sit proudly before their flower-in- a-Coke-can, amid Hershey bar wrappers, half-eaten Ding Dongs,  and empty paper coffee cups. Occasionally, a mother will pick up  her present and bring it to her nose when one of the bearers of the  single flower — her child — asks if she likes it. And the mother will  respond the way that mothers always have and always will respond  when presented with a gift on this day. “Oh, I just love it. It's perfect. 
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I'll put it in the middle of my Bible.” Or, “I'll put it on my desk, right  next to your school picture.” And always: “It's the best one here.” 2 But most of what is being smelled today is the children themselves.  While the other adults are plunking coins into the vending  machines, the mothers take deep whiffs from the backs of their  children's necks, or kiss and smell the backs of their knees, or take  off their shoes and tickle their feet and then pull them close to their  noses. They hold them tight and take in their own second scent —  the scent assuring them that these are still their children and that  they still belong to them. 3
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AMANDA COYNE Profile - AMANDA COYNE(b 1966 an award-winning...

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