Poetry Porch: Forgiveness


Sicut et Nos
by Julia Budenz

Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
                                                     ––Matthew 6:12. 

1. The Three
2. The Two
3. The One
4. Reception
5. Receiver
6. Recipe
7. The Seventh Day

From Book Four, “Towards Farthest Thule,” of the poem in five books, “The Gardens of Flora Baum.” 


1. The Three

Three whom I could hate
If I could abate
Hatred of hatred.

Three whom I could not forgive
Could I choose to live

Three, deep, defying,
Polluting, purified,
Or purifying.

Presences of potent past,
Loved or almost loved
At least at last.



2. The Two

As though I were the rose of rose and gold
Worsted by frost, by worm, by hurricane,
I felt: I can forgive.

I was the thorn and yours the blood. I said
Seven times seven, begging, something more
Like: Can you once again?

If blossoms bleed and flowers feel and speak,
Were you the perfect rose of pink and pearl?
Was I too sharp, too dull? 



3. The One

Seventy times seven I forgave you.
Four hundred ninety times I craved your pardon.

That was the world of we, the universe
Of you, the space or spacelessness of they.

The hours that make the week cannot compete.
The days that form the year cannot compare.

Seeing the forest, shall we count the trees,
Enumerate the numerable leaves,

Number the flutters, add, subtract each fall,
Tell green from green, sift amber, ocher, gold?

Here in the world of one, the universe
Of I, the psyche’s space of spaciousness,

How many times must one condone one’s own
Mauve trespasses? Can I forgive myself?



4. Reception

How could
That pollution
Ooze up
Once more?

How could
That third
As the fourth?

Oozing out and oozing in,
Is it pollution
Of me,
Of him?

Fumes through my head,
Mud around my heart,
Give an indication.
My hands crackle like dead leaves. 



5. Receiver

He put down the phone while I was still speaking.
Yet how slight was my reflection upon the light of his glory.
The fire of my resentment
Had exuded nothing more
Than a smudge of soot.
And the wires transmit neither heat
Nor anything seen or seeable even. 



6. Recipe

This recidivism
Can be, if not prevented,

Your heavy
Heart. Benevolent, extended,

Dripping with shade, glittering
With sun, still, flittering,

Leaves of gold and umber
Lift and rest against the azure.

These hands caress
The heaviness.

                         Then elevate
Your heart, accept
Ethereal touch, take wing,

Before the littering.



7. The Seventh Day

Rest, O my spirit. Rest. The strife is over.
The war is won. The work is done. The week
Has come to this accomplishment. Now seek
Completion. Let the sabbath last forever.

Rest, O my soul. The seeker is the mover.
Listen, my spirit. Hear before you speak.
Possession has been promised to the meek.
The victory is given to the giver.

November’s forest is a final flame,
Blazing euonymus its burning bush
And rutilating oak its fiery tree.

Is this a final conflict? Shall I claim
The ruddy struggle or the lightsome hush?
Strive, O my soul. The rest is harmony.

Copyright © 1999 by Julia Budenz. 
From Book Four, Towards Farthest Thule, of the poem in five books, 
          “The Gardens of Flora Baum.

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