We assemble in the hall
eager to administer justice and pick
an amount fair to both sides.
The plaintiff’s back is said to be
blotched by light therapy
despite smiling cruise photos.
approaches her in the witness box,
and offers a packet of Kleenex.
Hands resting on hip,
her counsel locks eyes
and presses for compensation.
The litigant meets our verdict with
a blank stare. The settlement
mitigates her suffering.
Outside the courthouse a man
sleeps on a steel bench. Snowflakes fall
on his head.
Citizens turn to look
at the pink blanket-draped
The choir director prays for us to abandon
fear, yet by the fifth verse I forget my one note.
What I would do if I were not afraid:
make the swamp oak shudder like thunder,
disrupt the cheeping that holds the flock together,
let my hair fly free and tangle in the wind,
eat hot wings and listen to dance tunes,
go to sea with the owl and the pussycat,
tango with my sage, battle my saboteurs,
pop the infant off my breast,
smudge the love letter,
commission a raise, chip
the china, leave a sandwich for the man
under the bridge,
sing tall the tricky notes.
Born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Gaby Bedetti is the American translator of Henri Meschonnic’s work, a contributor to Lexington’s poetry blog and a professor at Eastern Kentucky University. She has published in Off the Coast, Poet Lore, Italian Americana, Cold Mountain Review, and elsewhere.