Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Duty

I know a woman who had it for six weeks.
Six weeks! It could happen
To anyone, ripped as if by cancer and broken bones
From life and normal things. We pretend to be immune but,
Like cancer and broken bones, it calls us all in time.

Each day she rode the train from Livermore
To Oakland, my home. For her, it was going somewhere
She would not normally go. Quarantined in the county seat, she
And eleven of her peers called a man a murderer
Then went for beers. So it turns out

Their shared trial formed a bond, and they remain
Best friends to this day. Talk about
A positive attitude. "It could happen
To you," she says. But we all know,
Just like there's no such thing as true love

Or true justice or learning from suffering,
It wouldn't happen to you.

Like reasonable people, I live in terror
Of my summons. I always defer
To the twenty-third of December, which is not
A holiday. If you must come for me,
O Judge, come then. I'll be waiting, limbs
Stretched, bones ready for breaking.