Scene in a courthouse conference room
by Patrick Meighan

He sits at the table across from his lawyer.
The bailiff stands at the one door,
shifting his weight every few moments.
His shoe leather not yet cracked. Too tight still.
A white clock on the institutional-white wall
shows 9:42, the second hand struggling
to scale a Matterhorn, step by feeble step,
toward VIII, toward IX, toward X and XI
– and XII at last! –
then inches down a slope as steep. The man
at the table, his fingers wrestling one with
another. From the attorney: pale words of
options, of give and take. Meanwhile, the slender
hiker ascends and descends a distant range
of passing minutes. Where would time go
when it's full of too many minutes to count?
Leaving a vast desert to walk, a horizon so small
it seems more to fade as one draws nearer.
The door clicks open, giving the bailiff a start.
The prosecutor sticks in her head, her hand
on the knob, her hand with the ring, her ring with
the diamond that condenses violets out of the air,
violets nowhere else present in the room.
“Do we have a plea?” she asks.

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