The Way is Closed

by Midge Goldberg

Nickel-and-dime stuff mostly—he never killed
Anyone. Hotwired a car or two,
Sold some dope, but everyone did that.
And yeah, okay, he’d robbed that 7-11
Down by the old coast highway, with his hand
Balled in his coat to scare the fat-ass clerk.
But never any guns, though—too much trouble.

They showed him the shirt with the blood on it.
He swore he hadn’t done it, he was framed,
But they were ready to go home for supper,
Home to their wives and children, pot roast, doilies,
The chairs where they would watch the football game,
Open a beer or two, and then doze off.

They left him overnight in the quiet cell.
Not all that bad actually—the moon
Showed ocean out one window, light on dark,
An old field out back, past the makeshift fence.
He saw a dog ranging through the corn—

The dry stubble cuts into his feet;
The pockets of snow between the rows are cold.
Treading on white, he cannot help but leave
A trail of red between the stalks, faint stains
On lace, the sound of waves receding—
Egypt at the threshold of his vision.