Mystery to this Day

Young woman, defendant, looked too soon
Old with grizzled unkempt hair hung in strings
Dressed in run down shoes and faded jeans.

Café worker, felony charge, heavy sentence,
Disgrace enough to ruin kith, kin, and her kids.
Little left of youthful dreams and wistful hope.

Her man long gone, rent ever late, kitchen bare.
Daily she carries cafe’s cash to the bank, change tinkling,
A treasure for one whose kids need most everything.

Just a little taken, fixed the deposit slip, not very hard.
What crunched at her was how much she had to leave.
All that green gone and she with a life gone sour.

Court assigned a pro bono kid, working for experience,
Chances looked dire in spite of how innocent she felt.
No one missed the money, must not need it, why not?

Examined, crossed once or twice, facts askew, hope
Fades fast and then a miracle far from expected.
Judge called recess today, and no one objected

His memory weighed deep to conjure up an apparition
Of another woman, alone, five kids. He the oldest, once
Snatched a bag of groceries when the owner was in back.

That boy through dint of brutal work, steely will is the judge
Who today wishes for Solomon’s wisdom for this case.
By chance and right at hand he found a working answer.

Jailer’s wife fussed every day, needed help, duties
Hard and heavy, hours too long, pay way too little.
Next day defendant failed to appear, case tabled. But

Look close the jail kitchen holds another cook while
The Commonwealth took up other pressing cases.
The Judge, rare that day started court with a smile.

Forever after, treats would appear on Judges’s desk,
Mystery was who baked the fare. Bailiff Frank placed such
Without mention. Judge grinned at the sweets, but gaveled
Order in the Court.