Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Hearing

I am waiting for my attorney.
He wanted to confer about half an hour
before the start of the hearing.
He seems less concerned about the outcome
than the prospect of being embarrassed somehow.
I don’t think he likes how I did my hair.
He wants to practice, but I’m easily distracted.
What’s the point of answering the same questions
twice in one day?
The same questions I’ve been asked every five years
for the past eighteen.
Eventually I’m brought into the room
where I face the panel.
They were laughing about something
before I walked in the room.
I’d never seen them be human before.
As soon as they see me, their faces turn to stone,
and they start shuffling papers around.
So they start asking the usual questions.
I wonder if they are as bored as I am.
I must be glancing at the clock on the wall too much.
My attorney sharply nudges my knee with his.
Pay attention!
Yes, I’m remorseful.
Yes, I’ve been reading and getting my education.
Yes, I’m even a Christian now.
Yes, I’m a model employee in the kitchen.
No, I wouldn’t do it again.
I mean, look at me.
I’m a plump gray-haired lady now.
I would say I am rehabilitated, yes.
The widow is there, of course.
She’s never missed a hearing.
You’d think she made a career of it.
Her children are there too,
small when we started this;
now they have children of their own.
They beg the board to keep me where I am,
and honestly, I agree with them.
I have found a life here.
Not anyone’s ideal life, but it’s mine.
I have friends, and I don’t get hassled.
I like to help the new girls,
scared out of their minds
missing their boyfriends and their kids,
sometimes pregnant.
I lied about being a Christian earlier.
I haven’t found religion,
but I have found peace.
Peace that doesn’t exist out there,
where I have no job prospects
and no one wants me moving next
to their homes or schools.
So my responses to the board
(scripted by my attorney)
are flat and rote, to his dismay.
I know the board members are swayed by the testimony
of the victims.
After some deliberation, they announce
that my parole has been denied.
I breathe a sigh of relief
and smile,
but I quickly assume a grim expression
for the sake of everyone involved.
My attorney already moved on to the next case,
and I return home.

No comments:

Post a Comment