Discover more from the animal eats
What a gift it is, to give us grace.
Because I am given to fits of self-flagellation, and eager to find the fault with me, and certain so often that if only I am good enough and smart enough, enough enough and more, that I can fix it, I can do it, that I alone can do it, that I alone can do it the one and only way it must be done or heavens help me;
because I find it hard, sometimes, to be as sweet a friend to me as I’d like to be to others, and to give myself the time I need to free the full weight of this hungry soul in this finite, delicate body, the one I’ve been so cruel to and love re-learning to love;
because I feel electric and alive at the possibility that giving myself grace might also give me space to step outside my imperfection and see me as I am: a perpetual work in progress, learning what I must in the time I take to learn it, precisely and only exactly where I’m supposed to be given everything that’s ever happened in the history of the world, merely one moving part of a shapeshifting whole, an infinite tapestry of flowering stars;
because I am like you, unfinished and at times impatient, and need to be reminded that another way to think of flaw or failure is a lesson in becoming who we need us to be and for me that means the kind of person who can tell me I forgive you and mean it, and believe it;
for these and other reasons, this poem knocked me from my socks and left me lovesick in the bath. So I wanted you to read it, just in case you need it too.
For leaving the fridge open
last night, I forgive you.
For conjuring white curtains
instead of living your life.
For the seedlings that wilt, now,
in tiny pots, I forgive you.
For saying no first
but yes as an afterthought.
I forgive you for hideous visions
after childbirth, brought on by loss
of sleep. And when the baby woke
repeatedly, for your silent rebuke
in the dark, “What’s your beef?”
I forgive your letting vines
overtake the garden. For fearing
your own propensity to love.
For losing, again, your bag
en route from San Francisco;
for the equally heedless drive back
on the caffeine-fueled return.
I forgive you for leaving
windows open in rain
and soaking library books
again. For putting forth
only revisions of yourself,
with punctuation worked over,
instead of the disordered truth,
I forgive you. For singing mostly
when the shower drowns
your voice. For so admiring
the drummer you failed to hear
the drum. In forgotten tin cans,
may forgiveness gather. Pooling
in gutters. Gushing from pipes.
A great steady rain of olives
from branches, relieved
of cruelty and petty meanness.
With it, a flurry of wings, thirteen
gray pigeons. Ointment reserved
for healers and prophets. I forgive you.
I forgive you. For feeling awkward
and nervous without reason.
For bearing Keats’s empty vessel
with such calm you worried
you had, perhaps, no moral
center at all. For treating your mother
with contempt when she deserved
compassion. I forgive you. I forgive
you. I forgive you. For growing
a capacity for love that is great
but matched only, perhaps,
by your loneliness. For being unable
to forgive yourself first so you
could then forgive others and
at last find a way to become
the love that you want in this world.
If you have fifteen minutes, you can hear Pádraig Ó Tuama read it, and hold it to the light, which I highly recommend.
And if you have fifteen more, you might consider writing for a while, first making a list of the many things you’d like to forgive in yourself. And when you are done you might write you a poem, or a prayer, or a letter, forgiving you for all of it.
And if you do, and want to share it, why not share it with me?