Epistle to the Mad Woman in the Fountain

To this day, that day that you named me,
arrested me, indicted me, convicted me,
I remain perplexed if not shouldered
with guilt. What did you see in a young
man’s posture, slumped if not posed
for a crime yet to be committed,
connived? I walk lightly now, as if
exposed to the sky’s fiercest jurist —
who with neither bolt nor wheel
may not presume to condemn one
thus condemned to a cagéd “if”.

For that I assume your shrill verdict
has had the desired effect: contrition
for an unnamed sin, unspoken save
for the wine on my tongue that, red
as it is, calls forth another witness
to your claim. How many more
anorectic husks must be dragged
out and displayed, exhibited before
a council of one, who as plaintiff
and defendant same, who as both
cannot bargain a satisfactory plea.

Madam, in the intervening years
I must admit myself felonious,
investigated, decreed, but not
to the degree alleged — only hope
has died, mine and bludgeoned.
I assume your mania, there in the fountain,
barefoot as a child, panning pennies as gold
has proven me to be as I am, a murderer
of things I might have done if given
the right auspicious opportunity, a plan
still vexed if not prevented

by a mad woman’s taunt:
“I know who you are young man —
and you, you are a murderer”

Image: Pavel Nekoranec on Unsplash

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