Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts

Poetry Contest Winners :: Thirteenth Contest :: Second Place Winner


Forgiveness

by Kristen McHenry
Shows up during lunch rush at the Deli Express.
Slips beside me into the booth, a chummy ghost
As I eat cheese toast and gulp acidic coffee.
It happens so fast I don't notice him at first.
He smiles at me, as soft as laundered flannel,
Then he's humming in my heart like a blue lotus.

And just like that, it's done.

After the years of sour cramping in my throat,
The perpetual grit of rage that dimmed my sight,
A lit novena for each tendril of revenge:
God, lead me to forgiveness; please God lead me out
Of this black canyon that echoes only pain.
(But not today, not just yet, let me linger still).

Next, the neatly-typed, imaginary papers
Stating: “I forgive, I forgive” — those stern contracts
That somehow never took; non-binding, useless screeds
Thrown out of court for lack of a credible witness.
The fresh herbs and tinctures did nothing, either,
Though I longed to swallow forgiveness like a seed.

The fact is that in the end, it came on its own
With such ease, and through the tiniest of spaces.
I knew then the difference between choice and grace.
Outside, the rain continued on, and the people.
Inside, my coffee tasted just as bitter,
But I drank it in a different universe.
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Blue Mountain Arts