To My Track Driver, on Trial

by Gary Mesick

What can I say that would help you now?

That I had no right to my amused surprise
When you saw your first sheep and mistook them
For a breed of unusually hirsute cattle,
Since you had only seen bull terriers for reference?

That, though I loathed spending the night with you
Pulling and replacing our drive train, and I berated you
For not challenging the order that sent us plunging
Into the ravine under that moonless sky,
I was secretly flattered (being barely old enough to drink myself)
That you would drive off a cliff
On just my say-so?

That you were fiercely loyal to me.
That the other guy wasn’t half the soldier
You should have been.  That you were a straight arrow
When sober.  That you were bound for jail
Before you were born.  That your doom is insufferable,
Like cancer.  And that I can only hope you captured
Some remembered joy in those few allotted years you had
Before stabbing your bunkmate over that half-empty bottle
Of Olde English 800.