Saturday 13 May 2017


by Mary K O'Melveny

It came in yesterday,
along with the bills, junk
mail and money requests.
The US District Court
wants to find my Mother.
A Summons for service.

She has dates and numbers.
Questionnaires to fill out.
History to report.
It’s all quite serious.

There are some exceptions,
of course:  infirmity,
age, disability,
volunteer safety jobs,
among others.  One time,
just “female” was enough.

She always wanted this.
Once, she almost made it
but the case got settled.
Another time she had
moved away but she tried
willing herself back there.

She had many questions
about this curious
institution where a
fate can lie in your hands.
The raw power of it –

Sudden elevation
from the quotidian
to the omnipotent.
Her simple life was filled
with the usual moments,
children, meals and paychecks.
The very idea that
her opinions might be
important to someone
outside her sphere
brought a little chill up,
hairs on the neck rising.

The transformational
thought of it all – strangers
suddenly privy to
far away dramas and demons
landing right in their midst,
as if by time machine.

And, as the story lines
unfold like mystery
novels, piecing the clues
together, staring at
the witness box, waiting
for the Perry Mason

denouement.  This would be
The People’s Court with real
people!  The blending and
bonding, weighing, sifting,
verdict emerging like
Botticelli’s Venus.

So, I am glad for the
official interest
in finding my Mother.
She’s been gone four years now.
But I would love to see
her there.  Oath taken.  Not excused.

* * * * *

Mary K O'Melveny is a retired labor rights lawyer living in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her poems have been published in various print and on-line journals such as FLARE:  The Flagler Review, Into the Void, Allegro Poetry Magazine and The Offbeat.  Mary's poem "Cease Fire" won the 2017 Raynes Poetry Competition sponsored by Jewish Currents magazine and appears in the anthology "Borders and Boundaries" published by Blue Threads Press.

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