Joe on Jury

My grandfather’s book,
“Joe on Jury,”
 memoirs of an America
 that welcomed volunteers,
 peers signing up for civic duty, 
 sitting for days on that hard bench, 
 deliberating. Whether or not 
 they thought him equal
 was not evident:
 Italian immigrant, 
 warehouse worker,
 large, hard hands,
 soft-hearted folds on a face
 that listened, observed, recorded.
 The stories he told of the suspects.
 Those descriptions of the bailiff. 
 There was pride in those narrow circles,
 script inked onto loose-leaf paper, 
 lines faded over the years,
 pages handcuffed 
 into a pebbled black binder.
 I’ve still got it stored 
 somewhere around here.
 Shame, I’ve never sat on a jury.
 The times I’ve been summoned,
 I’ve been on the stand,
 countering a speeding ticket
 (20 over in a school zone)
 fighting for custody of my kids
 (yes, I’m aware of the irony),
 not living up
 to anyone’s expectations.
 But oh, the way I write,
 like I still have my grandfather’s pen.
 How I long
 to make something lasting. 
 -Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt 

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