The Exercise of Forgiving
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.
Copyright © 2019 by Felicia Zamora. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 3, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“For the past few years, someone I love has been struggling with clinical depression and alcoholism, a journey that has reshaped both our understandings of ourselves as humans and the space we inhabit with each other. These diseases can make people raw, rub you down to only nerve endings, and make you question everything you know. I naively thought I understood empathy and forgiveness before, but now I’m learning how to regenerate, pay attention, listen, and love boldly, and how sometimes we must brave the wound’s exposure to allow for any real healing to begin.”
Felicia Zamora is the author of three poetry collections, including, most recently, Instrument of Gaps (Slope Editions, 2018) and & in Open, Marvel (Parlor Press, 2018).
Date Published: 2019-01-03
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/exercise-forgiving