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To Forgive by Lilah Clay

Father and I were skipping stones when I was five.
I missed the pond,
hit him in the ear with a big rock.
It hurt.
He laughed.
I cried.

He was born at 4:44 in the morning.
I was born at 4:44 in the evening.
Night and day.

Back when I knew him
he enjoyed white water rafting,
“Calvin & Hobbes” comics,
and drinking chardonnay.

He will die one day.
I hope I will have healed before then,
so his death won’t have to be a relief.
Instead it can be sad.
Like I will have lost a part of someone,
I once, long ago, had loved.

People must meet him and think
he is soulful and funny,
generous and kind.
But really, it must be hard
to be broken like branches in a storm.

Families are stain glass windows
of saints in churches with a rock
flung through.
Half shattered by the black sheep,
the truth teller—
who hurts them more
than the perpetrator.

Father builds tall fences,
turns away from the mirror.
Daughter sees counselors,
wants to throw soup violently over
the back porch for no apparent reason.

I killed the dad in my novel
a decade before I even remembered
what had happened to me.
My subconscious picked up a gun
and shot him in the chest

It was helpful.
Still, there is no peace.
There are calm days though,
rubbing the bellies of purring wolves,
laminating four leaf clovers into book marks,
and canning peaches for winter.

I’ve heard I have to forgive him
to be free.
I’ve also heard centipedes have life partners.
I wonder if both can be true?


Lilah Clay
Lilah Clay is the author of a novel, a memoir, and a full length collection of poetry-in-progress entitled Tonight the Wind Rebels. She is also working on sci-fi screenplay and teaches slam poetry at the Haiku Academy of Performance Arts where she lives in Hawaii. She can be contacted at lilavala@msn.com
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