Marydale Stewart

The Judge and the Farmer

(with a debt to Tennyson’s
“Northern Farmer”)

Panelled walls, light-blurred ceiling,
men’s ties slicing white shirtfronts,
people crouched behind cameras,
laps of notebooks, spikes of microphones,
a man alone at one small table in the center.

Now think of a Lincolnshire farm field,
broad-backed cob cantering,
rough-faced, dust-booted rider chanting
proputty, proputty, proputty.

At the small table the man leans forward
from his black cushioned chair, explaining
his life in the law and
precedence, precedence, precedence.

Think of that righteous rider
scolding a son who wants to marry
a village girl for love, not money,
when he ought to be marrying
proputty, proputty, proputty.

At the small table the man defends
his life as a judge, declaiming
precedence, precedence, precedence.

O smiling judge, what did you do when
a man chose to save his own life instead
of proputty, proputty, proputty?

O distinguished judge, what did you think
when you said a disabled child
has no right to learn?

O righteous judge, you said
precedence, precedence, precedence.