I Am In This World, But Not Of This World


I think I’m trying to forgive myself—

not for moving

too far from the ends

of my mother’s knotty fingers. Not for the century

past that holds in its ribs another woman

with my eyes. Not for the children

my brothers were when I left them

on the highway outside

Banff, storming south

with a few pairs of clean underwear

zippered in my coat pockets. Not for leaving them

to the man who would bury their bodies

in the wind after beating them. Not for staying just

long enough to witness my mother

cower to the man she’d trade

the coffer of her body

to fill. Not for saying my dead father

drank. Not for not asking him

to stay. Not for his body, hung

like a sheet against my childhood

sky. Not for being the girl

who spit & smoked at each rest stop

along I-25. Not for not seeing another way

for a woman to move

through the world, except as ghost,

as other, as wrong. Not for understanding

suicide, the litany of high school days spent

in the ER with friends. Not for my husband’s broken life

-lines, the days he coaxes

from my throat. Not for my sons’ imperfect days spent

in dark rooms they won’t remember later. I promise you:

there is no sentence a mother won’t finish.

Rather, I think I’m trying to forgive myself

for the thought, not the act. For considering

the river, the bare window, the glut

of mornings without sun. For birthing the future

& turning away. And this body that bears only men—

I want to forgive. The dreams & daughters

& dirty rain it won’t give me.

The way it reaches for sons

as if reaching for a noose, flint, fool’s gold.

The wild grace of a thousand dawns.