Friday, June 19, 2009

490 Captives

I recently found an interesting site called Poets Online, which has monthly writing prompts encouraging poetic response. This month's prompt involves writing a confessional poem - confessional in style and confessional in content. Here is my offering:


I remember saying the words often
a habit
a sacred
my young brain forming small thoughts
about God
and myself
and the world

In that same nightly chant where I hollowed His name
(Who ever heard of hallowing?)
I asked Him (or at least someone)
to forgive my debts
(Do six-year-olds have debts?)
or sometimes it was ‘trespasses’
(Who but criminals went trespassing?)

I asked whomever to “forgive me
as I forgave others”
meaning ‘while’
but certainly not ‘in the same manner as’
for my charmed six-year-old life
and my sweet six-year-old heart
weren’t offended yet
And I had not yet been told how offensive I was

Fast-forward a few decades
to the hard here and now
where the tender young trust
lies buried under a brittle shell
(at least I hope so)
like the old bread crusts that even my songbirds did not want
dotting my yard
and my mind
with whispers of what I’d hoped
but which wasn’t

Now I know better
with my mind
(theologically astute and all that)
But the young girl that trusted
was the young woman that loved
the child’s friend’s mother

Now seething with hurt
and hard with bitter thoughts
of ambivalence
which some would call hatred
but I know to be
the slow, secret murder of self-righteous indignation
that pretends right back that she doesn't exist

In this one part of my otherwise glowing life
I live the law of the scornful
as I return evil for evil
at least in my mind
“Reject as you have been rejected”
is safer
but only in the farce that is my own understanding

“Forgive as you have been forgiven”
She didn’t forgive.
She didn’t forbear.
She didn’t love me.

But I did
He whispers

“as you have been forgiven”

And so I take captive
the smug, superior masks
of the frightened young mother
turned old
and cold
and hand them over again
and again
and again

© 2009 Laurie Sitterding

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