There was a trial, of course;
Perfunctory, but adhering to decorum and required niceties.
I played my part according to the script,
Eschewing the opportunity to ad-lib denials and denunciations
(What are a few more lies in a life already marred
By hundreds, perhaps thousands of others?)
Choosing instead to mouth the words used by scores before me
Indicting oneself for trespasses against state and party
And accepting the judgment of my peers
(For we are, to the last man, all peers now.)
I might have, I suppose, returned to my roots, as it were,
Some small, dark flat in some banlieue ouvriere,
An angry young man mellowing into conservative curmudgeonry,
But sometimes a full stomach can be every bit disorienting as hunger,
Convincing one he is doing the work of the masses
Long after it is obvious that neither he nor they have any clue
As to what such a vocation might actually entail.
You may as well ask a flower to return underground,
To that dark earth rife with the excrement of worms and dead seed pods.
I have no intention of being rousted at some near-future pre-dawn,
To be dragged like some bewildered calf through dewy scrub grass
In order to be haphazardly blindfolded and thrown against a wall;
I will leave at a moment of my own choosing
(The guards will facilitate my undertaking, as most of them
Engage in a tidy little side business as emissaries
To those who choose to book their own passage to the other side.
One cannot blame them—they do what they must to get by.)
You may take it as one last dereliction of duty,
One final missed opportunity to exhibit some trace of valor.
All well and good, then; having once held the club,
I have no appetite for assuming the role of the doomed bovine
Trotting the final steps of the ramp leading to the abbatoir.