A mother picks up the phone.
“Come get me,” says her son,
his voice choked with captivity.
The mother is pulled through
the phone line into another life
of handcuffs and highbeams.
The line is ticking, like
life parsed out in small
increments, small permissions.
Wordless days elapse,
each one a rack, wrenching
her limbs out of place.
She walks with a slight limp
into the courtroom on the day
her son is scheduled to appear.
Her eyes take in too much light.
The gleaming wood is sinister.
Small consultations occur between
lawyers and the lost
in a fishbowlof urgent
whispering. The judge
is harkened. He sits up high
near the ceiling tiles. Her son
is third in a chainlink of other
offenders. A cataract of orange
assaults her, and she sees:
the curled tongue inside the jaw
that’s trying to be a man,
the green fear in his eyes.

© Tori Grant Welhouse