To the Man I Almost Killed

by Heather Ball

Vengeance and Justice are cousins.
Revenge married in.
&&&&&&&&&&These three came to visit me
&&&&&&&&&&When I sat beside your hospice bed.

&&&&&&&&You did not know me.
&&&&&&&&You did not know yourself.
&&&&&&&&I was not there to visit.

Vengeance and Justice are cousins.
And Justice hides his family.
What would the neighbors think, after all?
If the cousins and in-laws nailed their words
On the front door or
Made their colors known?

&&&&&&&&&And yet, these three visited me,
&&&&&&&&&As I am acquainted with that family tree
&&&&&&&&&(as you were once acquainted with me.)

&&&&&&&&&She and I are cousins.
&&&&&&&&&You married in.
&&&&&&&&&You did not know me.
&&&&&&&&&You did not know yourself, at the end.

Truth and Justice are cousins.
And Truth is fragile- too fragile
To play with anymore.
And Justice is rough– He must be to keep up
With cousins and in-laws.

Who kept up with you?
In those dark moments?
The moments we hid.
(What would Justice think, after all.
If the cousins and in-laws nailed their words
On the front door or
Made their colors known?)

&&&&&&&&She and I are cousins.
&&&&&&&&You married in.
&&&&&&&&She came to visit me
&&&&&&&&When I sat beside your hospice bed.

&&&&&&&&You did not know me.
&&&&&&&&You did not know yourself.
&&&&&&&&You were a shell, a shell,
&&&&&&&&Not a thriving body. No thoughts.
&&&&&&&&Just fog and the odd sounds you’d make
&&&&&&&&In your mouth after your degenerate brain
&&&&&&&&Took your speech from you.

Vengeance and Mercy and
Justice and Truth came to visit me
When I sat beside your hospice bed.

&&&&&&&&&I was not there to visit.

&&&&&&&&&I do not know if it was mercy or justice
&&&&&&&&&that stayed my hand.
&&&&&&&&&They looked the same to me
&&&&&&&&&&(as me and my cousins looked to you):

Don’t forget: Mercy and Justice are cousins too.

 

Heather Ball is an English Language Arts teacher in the Arkansas Delta. She enjoys writing poetry and personal essays about the minutia of life and the complexities of interpersonal relationships. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from The University of the Ozarks.