A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Imagine how his garden must look,
grown thick with flowering vines
and the snap beans his children pick—
three girls who run to hug him
when he comes home summer evenings,
the oldest almost as old
as you were then—
and the work-at-home wife
who depends upon his weekly check
and his gentle voice which you hear again
saying hello before you begin,
stammering slightly like a kid,
to say why you called.
You wanted it all to come out,
what he did to you back then,
but he chokes, repeating forgive me
so earnestly you have to hesitate—
such a nice man, the man who hurt you.
Could he be half good, half bad,
the line drawn so many years on either side?
To find a rule for measuring,
a final, strict proportion—
impossible, and you who draw lines
around your own misdeeds,
how can you withhold forgiveness
from the troubled man who cries,
begging to be left in peace
in the life he describes—harmless,
it seems. But once he sat on your bed
and touched you and touched you,
releasing a secret, companion pain
that left you ashamed, and never
did it embrace him fully until now,
though today it appears to him as fear
as it lifts its face,
opens its arms and mouths his name,
good or bad, either way.
Copyright 2017 Sandy Solomon
Sandy Solomon is the author of Pears, Lake, Sun winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press.