The Hypothesis

Peter Sherburn-Zimmer

I listened to my friends in the café

Discussing the death penalty

And its complexities.  The inadequacies

Of simple principles to handle the question.

Who do you kill? Who decides? All that.

And the question comes up: would you

Rather die or be locked up for good?

Hypothetical, so far, the discussion.

But I find I cannot tell them

About my time with an indefinite sentence,

When the guards explained to me

They could keep me as long as they liked.

No. No longer. Just what if they locked you up for life?

Hypothetical. And what came to my mind

Was what I learned when I was locked up for life:

Human being is so malleable, so resilient.

There, with that window, barred, high above my head,

I learned getting by is all that matters,

From now until whatever comes, just getting by.

With no hypothesis available, like the Buddhist says:

Today I eat, I look to the sky that is all I can know.