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Sunday, September 30, 2007


by Joanne Lowery

Finally, after ten appeals in twenty-five years,
he is proclaimed innocent and set free.
Because of test tubes and microscopic juices
he is believed. Now his words are called true.
The girl, he did not rape and kill that girl.
It was all a mistake of justice and procedure.

Look at him weep in the arms of his mother.
Reporters want him to describe his happiness
in a metaphor that makes twenty-five years disappear.
How he woke up every day to an orange suit
and pig slop and unborn children is redeemed
by today’s passage through the prison gate.
Look at the happy man cry.

You too can feel that swell in your chest
where your heart lives caged in ribs.
You can forgive busy people their careless mistakes
and tell yourself you are stronger for all
you suffered, that what you know
about yourself is what really matters.
If you look at today’s sky, it can be bluer
for you than for any of the people who walk by
in couture clothes, jabbering on BlackBerrys.

On a happiness scale of one to ten, eleven
does not mean a freed man gets to eat a steak dinner.
To be off the charts does not require
that you forgive and forget most of your life.
We all share this same day—the guilty and the exonerated.
Later, he thinks about how good that hamburger tasted.

Joanne Lowery’s poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including Birmingham Poetry Review, 5 AM, Passages North, Atlanta Review, and Poetry East. She lives in Michigan.