I watched him fall and rise upon that hill,
heard his call as he released his ghost.
I never dreamed civility would damn me.
I was like others, a man of honor
with a wife who wanted peace of mind by nightfall,
children who needed discipline, routine.
I could not be a revolutionary,
abandon what had been vested in me.
Doubtless he understood. Why else obey
the common law, shoulder his own undoing
to the place of skulls, when but a word
would spare him? He chose my silence
as surely as he chose his betrayer.
He needed me to fail to save us all.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.