Monday, January 17, 2022

Of Begging Indulgences for the Self

I’m going out of the forgiveness business —
Everything must go:
Each elbow to the ribs,
All tourniquets to imagined stabs.

The innocent were conscientious
In taking over what I had:
The urge to change what didn’t work for me,
The white pattern's lone black frequency.

It was something that I said
And only heard in different words;
The sharpened swords are always contending,
Always only defending.

I made the choice to lift and hold the blade,
For that was the rule taught in grammar school,
Don’t raise your brow unless prepared to freeze
Like a statue, scaring ghosts and new issue.

“At ease,” the General says,
But the Corporal chafes beneath the weight
Of what is nothing
But must be seen as Atlas-ean,

The cowardly as brave,
The temporary as permanent,
The wound as something to cover the globe
In emergency red,

Which is true at least to the feeling
Of not being forgiven
By the one who drew blood at the dance,
The steps so quick and complicated

And so far away in time and space
There is only the memory now of the hole ...
There was always someone in the way of atonement,
An extension of my intention that strayed

Into a distant, beating heart unswayed
And impossible to reach, except to say, to myself,
“Let them be, they did not know what to do
About me, for I hardly crossed at their light.”

I was hurt because the laws said I should be
And cultivated my animosity so I could barter
My forgiveness to return back to the cell
Where I left the straw suit and coconut head in the bed.

They were creatures of the environment
Who nosed me out of that cramped, dark space,
What I would have seen as a gift were it not
For the other creatures I’d fantasized in their place.

And the ones who knew me well enough to steal
A ribbon of my soul, how I wanted them to stay
For a moment, share some strong, bitter tea
On their way to the getaway car.

And you, the big Kahuna, who waved a mirror
In front of my face as you pilfered the furniture,
All the blame reflects even now on myself
And the battered old scarecrow, Absentia, mere straw.

I perform ablution on it all, in one fell swoop,
One mighty flood of tears, wherever it is needed,
Some dark spot in the whole where you and I,
The thing we did together, suffered.

Or is it all one, the same, absolution?
For the courage to live and not to know,
The shame accruing like spores
To the raw and ever-exfoliated forest?

This will all get clarified
When the grades are handed out
At the life review, and everyone will laugh
How they really knew

And said “yes” to what they never wanted
And “no” to what they didn't understand
And were saddled with something real after all
To slough off, some shade of yellow or such,

Some evidence still fresh
That they were here
Despite all the evidence
To the contrary.