The Exercise of Forgiving

Felicia Zamora
Six months ago, the measuring of whiskey
left in the jug, urine on the mattress, couch
cushions, the crotch of pants in wear. You watch
how breath lifts a chest, how a person breathes—
sick hobbies of when we must. You watch
how you become illiterate at counting.
Six or seven broken breathalyzers; a joke
formulates in your throat & you
choke back your windpipe as punchline.
How many sobs in parking lots before sun
lugged above horizon? The heart hammers
all too familiar songs behind your ribs
& these notes cut away at you. You read online
how television, internet, starving children
in numbers greater than three, polar bears,
rain forests, light from an off direction
all desensitize the human brain’s ability
to empathize. You wonder how
you chew the word panic in your jaws,
let meaning burrow into molars
seep in crevasses between root & bone.
How rot tends to the insides. You wonder
now with the inpatient tags, the cafeteria visits,
the doctors, the psychiatrists, the when do you
get to come homes, the hesitation of our bodies
sharing space again, the words I have not
drunk today & your brain in flinch, how you
excavate organs for what’s left, for salvage.

Related Poems

from “Introductions”

Who am I?
Someone who kisses your shoulder when they’re not supposed to.
I’m wearing high heels by the pool so that makes everything OK.
Now don’t be charming, darling.
There could be a lot of smashed vases in our future.

What should I do? Mind my manners?
I’m the type of person to lose an emerald ring.
I might drop it in my champagne and drink it.
How can I be such a swine?
Oh, darling. I hate to be thirsty.