More on forgiveness

A flower behind my ear


White blossom big as a fist
against the side of my head—
even when I listen carefully,

the fragrance reveals nothing.


Once, there was a whisper
in my ear, knife at my cheek, scrape
of a man’s voice, predictions,
like this is going to ruin you.
And now? I still tell no one

whose hand’s on my knee.


If ever we need forgiveness,
it will be for this:
nothing anyone gives us is enough.

Resent the empty stalk.

Shame on the flower
for not being able to live.


And so this theme of forgiveness (most recently in Deb’s Because we are hungry) keeps luring me. Along with the associated themes of guilt and responsibility. I am so surprised where this went. And I fought it a long time. I think it’s one of those drafts that barely makes sense to anyone except its author. I don’t plan on adding any kind of narrative or exposition, but instead, think revision calls for amping up its “offness.”


8 thoughts on “More on forgiveness

  1. And something funny? I don’t believe in forgiveness. Don’t believe in asking for it. Don’t believe in granting it.

    What fascinates me about forgiveness is the stuff on its periphery: acquiescence, attrition, need for acceptance, imbalance of power. That kind of thing.

    • I like the last three lines, though. Perhaps there is a way to keep them (or the idea of them) & take out the mandate. Hmm.

      I like the violence in the first two stanzas. Maybe not like, exactly, but like the power of words like fist paired with flower.

  2. Pingback: Memorial Day weekend: How did this happen? « carolee sherwood

  3. I like all of this….I can feel you letting yourself say things (does that make sense?). I actually prefer it without narrative in this case.

    I know just what you mean about “fighting” a poem as we write it. I don’t see this ending as preachy–but I do notice a shift in voice. Not bad, at all—just something I noticed.

    Loving this.

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