My son, seven years old (times seventy),
prays, “I forgive You for my sins.”
I suggest he means, “Please
forgive me for my sins,” emphasis
on Please and me, and he says,
“God knows what I meant”
and that is the end of that.
This child, I can tell already
he is forgiving me all I’m not,
all my ever-presence impresses
upon him. Just as I am always
forgiving my mother. At times
I choose an irreconcilable self, a life
of shadowy unsettled blame.
No, she didn’t beat or neglect me
or make my life a little hell. In fact,
she filled an unconditional gap
with a martyr’s grace. Still
I must forgive because
the heavy inevitable weight
of her nature scarred me.
Her wall of resolute protection scarred me.
Her over-control; her lack of control;
How she’d tell us to go back to bed
when Dad came home at four a.m.
there is nothing to see here, nothing
to say, nothing ever to say.
But silence cannot forgive.
I avoid looking into places that
remind me of who I am, her love and
all those strong fragile fears. Or
I greet them as long lost
friends, as sign posts.
It’s up to me. Yes, for me
the scar might be a birthmark,
a dimple, a wink. Or it stays
a scar, going deeper until
it touches connective tissue,
slips between bone and marrow,
soul and skin. Mother,
I forgive you for my sins. Only
God knows what I mean.