Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Poem: How Do We Ask for Forgiveness

Photo by Ilona Panych on Unsplash

How Do We Ask for Forgiveness

How hard it is to let go, to open our hands
and give ourselves away. Love is never simple
or easy. Our hands want to clutch what we want
to keep everything sweet and delicious for ourselves.

A selfish, careless, greedy beast growls inside us.
I think of my husband’s hand, reaching out like a claw,
creeping along the table as though no one will notice
and snatching up a cookie and crushing it to crumbs
in his fist, as though for him time is moving backward

and he is becoming a child again, but aren’t we all children,
wanting what we want, just like when I had readings
in California and they were having mudslides so severe
the houses slipped from their foundations and all
I worried about was whether anyone would come

to my readings, slogging through dreadful weather,
and not whether houses were sliding off cliffs
into the sea, or the way I turned away from you,
my husband of forty-six years, to drive to Binghamton
to teach or fly to readings in Nebraska and South Dakota 

and Detroit, leaving you behind, no matter how much
I loved you, leaving you behind. “It is the actions,
not the words that count,” my mother said, and how
do I ask for forgiveness? We get what we deserve, our hearts,
these selfish children, beating for ourselves alone.

    by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Maria Mazziotti Gillan's new poetry collection is When the Stars Were Still Visible (2021). Other recent publications are the poetry and photography collection, Paterson Light and Shadow and the poetry collections What Blooms in Winter and The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets which pairs her poems with her paintings. Maria's artist's website is MariaMazziottiGillan.com and her poetry website is MariaGillan.com.

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