Jan/Feb 2024  •   Poetry  •   Special Feature

The Watchman

by Richard L. Matta

Rock art by Tim Christensen

Rock art by Tim Christensen

The Watchman

He's in that mode to feel a rush, pulls
over, climbs a totem pole, reaches

the carved Watchman at the top. Calls
me on his cell. His old cub scout knife

finds its way out, scratches bold initials.
Better yet, he slices a wood chip souvenir.

He drives recklessly from the sacred
grounds, gets pulled over for trespassing.

The ticket turns to a court hearing
then an overnight jail stay—the judge

has an urgent matter. He's nearly
assaulted by a jail mate who says

his family knows a family with ancestors
honored by that pole, and I wonder

why he felt compelled, why he called,
as if the wrong can't keep pace, as if

karma doesn't watch, and in his doubt,
he asks to see my cell phone, who I called.