Jury Duty

[audio link]

Late afternoon sun
slants across the courtroom
and chairs creak as we jurors
shift in our seats
struggling to stay awake
hoping to break early
to go Christmas shopping
before the stores get crowded

The husband is on the stand

They made me watch he is saying

I feel a sharp intake of breath
from the woman beside me
wearing a bright red silk blouse
who until now has sat
expressionless and silent

They made me watch
while they did it
he repeats, like he still
finds it hard to believe

Later, sitting on the motel bed,
I stare at my reflection
on the dark screen of the television
I don’t have to turn on—
visions of Darfur and Rwanda
whirling through my head

I too could bear witness and say

They made me watch
They made me watch
while they did it

—Beatriz Fernandez, Miami, FL