O Forgiveness

by Linda Parsons


It creeps up from behind, a trick pulling
the wool, someone who says close your eyes,
taps your crown, trails fingertips down

the side of your head. You’d swear an egg
cracked ever so gently, the white seepage,
yolk rivered to your ears. Or how my grandmother

sat me on a stool, stood behind to plait my hair,
my muscles gone rubbery, her touch light
as a foot on the Kenmore treadle. Truth be told,

it’s more an onrush, the Lower Ninth Ward
overwhelmed though the Army Corps
of Engineers vouched no levee would breach,

sweeping to sea my resolve to clasp our years’
turned locket till death do us part. It comes
ripping off the blindfold that strands me

on the ledge, a pyramid of Flying Wallendas
on my thin shoulders. It comes unshuttering
the windows, uprooting the maple I always

knew would hit the house. It comes when it
comes, on no one’s timetable, whether the creek
does or don’t rise, whether I split the ground

of his leaving finding nary a drop to drink,
whether my heart still bleeds from the corner
or has staunched the flow with alum. Whether

I’m ready or not, olly-olly-in-free, a new day
lifts its gaze from the dust of summer drought.

LINDA PARSONS is a poet and playwright and an editor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She is the reviews editor at Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, a supporting editor of New Millennium Writings, and has contributed to The Georgia ReviewIowa ReviewPrairie SchoonerSouthern Poetry ReviewThe Chattahoochee Review, Shenandoah, and Ted Kooser’s syndicated column, American Life in Poetry, among other journals and anthologies. Her most recent poetry collection is This Shaky Earth, and her newest endeavor is writing for The Hammer Ensemble, the social justice wing of Flying Anvil Theatre.

Photo: “Eggs of Many Colors” by woodleywonderworks

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