Thursday, March 02, 2006


Originally republished by Harper's Magazine, March 2006. The magazine explains that this is part of a statement made by George Earl Lewis of Chickasha, Oklahoma. Mr. Lewis was arrested "after sellng two grams of crack cocaine to an FBI informant." Mr. Lewis is seventy four years old and lives on "$600 per month in retirement benefits and pays $350 a month for his wife's cancer medication." The court issued a ten-year suspended sentence.

I, Mr. George Earl Lewis, do agree that what I've done was not right concerning the law. I do not deny the fact whatsoever. However, I did what I did simply to keep my wife Thelma up in her medications and to pay any bills owed due to her illness. She was diagnosed with cancer. Her Medicare doesn't pay all of her expenses. So what I did was simply trying to meet the needs of my wife, whom I love very much. I can assure you that I have learned a valuable lesson. I will do all I can simply to live on our income, which is my retirement check. And pray that God will have mercy on me, to see me through this ordeal.

If granted probation, I plan to continue to mow yards during the summer and fall, and, whenever I am able, to pick up cans. I will continue to live with my wonderful wife whom I been married to for twenty-nine blessed years. I will slowly learn how to read and write the best way I can. I will spend time at home with my wife, looking at TV, and sitting outside together. Mainly the only activities I have are mowing yards, running people around, looking at TV, and sitting in the yard with my wife in the cool of the evening.

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

from "Ash Wednesday," by T.S. Eliot

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