How much they owe you? Boy: fourteen, gawky,
braces, B+, shortstop, oboe, debate,

shot. Deep in the spleen of some insurance
office, there lies a chart. On it, numbers

sweating, making out with ravaged facts: math
of ravishment, revenge. Who can play and who

must pay are different answers to deflowered
questions. Here, sharp lawyers pause for truth

and lunch. Every third pickle, every third
slice of salami or fat wedge of king

salmon paid for. Every third bourbon, tank
of ultra, phone call, pen, power tie, ream

of glossy, briefcase or business-class seat:
the fruits of your meager tragedy. But who

can afford hourly fees or court costs?
Contingency’s all. You’ve lost before

you’ve won. Only losing big makes winning
big possible. When the check finally knifes

into your account, years later, the tear
wakes mourning’s slumber. You still can’t drive by

that school. Each bell a pure defeat, a prick
of guilt and anger. You stay home, with time

money buys, and in your victory garden, grow
childless vacations: shame’s plangent harvest.