Friday, August 24, 2007

Little Moments of Redemption

Forgiveness often does come unexpectedly and hidden inside tiny things--a breath of fresh air, a sense of lightness in a tense relationship, a smile after a long period of frowning, someone letting you in in traffic, a person telling you to go ahead in the checkout line, a lucky break, the benefit of the doubt. Along those lines, I want to pass along this poem that arrived in my Inbox in today's Writer's Almanac:

"Forgiveness" by Terence Winch, from Boy Drinkers. © Hanging Loose Press, 2007.


    Father Cahir kept us holy.
    He smoked cigars in the confessional.
    He had a distracted air about him,
    as though he wasn't sure what
    he was supposed to do next.

    I don't remember what he taught.
    History, probably. It was his
    liberal attitude as a confessor
    that made him a legend.

    No matter what you confessed to,
    he always barked out the same penance:
    "Three Hail Marys and a Good Act
    of Contrition. Next!" So we tested
    this leniency, confessing
    to rape, murder, burglary.

    Cahir paid no attention.
    He knew we were a bunch
    of high school punks.
    Puffing his cigar,
    he'd issue his standard
    penance and absolve all sins,
    real or imagined,
    with godlike aloofness,
    his vast indifference to
    or total acceptance of the darkness
    within the human soul
    exactly how I hope the deity
    regards us. Take forgiveness
    any way you can get it.

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