I found myself the last person in the courtroom, still sitting at counsel table after a rogue jury delivered a $22 million verdict against my client in a $7 million dollar case. How could this have happened? It was so wrong. In this the greatest legal system in the world, truth had not prevailed. This moment of courtroom despair triggered the still poignant memory of when, 15 years earlier, another jury acquitted the man who had murdered his wife and three children. I thought of their voices, silenced and unable to tell their story, to speak the truth, to persuade the jury. I wrote this poem alone in the courtroom to honor their voices and their lives. It was my 45th birthday.
She lies, undressed,
on the shining steel table,
her voice mute as the metal,
white skin washed clean of red
blood that once ran warm.
Bloodless wounds tell her story
to the inquiring examiner. But
the story of the living spoke
louder than the tale of the dead,
and the jury acquitted her killer,
the man who once said “I do”
and slipped a gold band on her finger.
Her white flesh lies cold
on the steel, her black hair flowing
over the edge toward the floor,
hair that hides where
the hammer crushed her skull.
Her screams have fled
into walls, into paint and plaster.
Her sobs have dripped, drowning,
into shag, soaked
into plywood and joists.
They would tell her sad story
to any who would listen, but
the living spoke louder than the dead.