These mornings, I wake feeling as if, during the night,
I had been tried by a jury of my peers
and found—But wait, fellow citizens! Fifty-two years
and no appeal? Is there no merciful alternate?
All those I have loved come by in a long parade,
their faces strangely tender, etched and grave
with my own lost intent and their belief.
Through half-closed eyelids I see those who have died,
glaring or bashful in the little tea-lights of my sleep.
Oaring the thick medium time, they seem to yaw
toward me in a sort of pregnant slo-mo,
but I can never read their straining lips,
and when dawn strands me in its courthouse square,
my body heavy in the deceitful sun,
my sentence to get through the day again,
they retire charged to their muffled chamber.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 28 Number 3, on page 24
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