This poem is dedicated to Hannah Overton, and to all who have been wrongfully convicted.
She wore her hair done up, a pinstriped shirt,
Gold earrings — tiny, so you had to squint —
She waited for the judge or, barring that,
An angel to pronounce the word. But “innocent”
Was not the word she heard. The jury went
On record; through her spirit went the sword.
A camera went off. The internet
Still has the photos. If you go online
You’ll see it all: the caving of the face,
The unbelieving eyes, the speechless lines,
Across the brow the knowledge of the fact,
The loss of all things dear, and the disgrace.
It happened years ago. Unhurried time
Will smooth one day the ruin in those brows.
But still online the silent face remains
Unaltered, that unutterable hour
Not hallowed yet, nor yet reprievable,
Before us in its unrelenting color
As it must be before her God, forever:
Like tables hewn of stone, like Moses’ tomb,
Like once the Virgin, raising troubled eyes
To ask “How can this be?”
And people she could not have known of then
Will stumble at that face and wonder
What she might have seen, what mysteries
To keep her living through that crucible;
To which the pure in heart may say
“Perhaps she saw the face of God.”