Poetry Porch: Forgiveness


From Laps, Section #28
by Michael Blumenthal

Repentence and forgiveness,
Steinsaltz says,
are the Jew’s sacraments,
so here in these baptismal waters
I am one stroke forgiveness,
one repentence (these gestures
cover all I know), my arms
arcing like the back of a sunflower
over the surface as I realize,
again, why I am doing this:
because swimming is a kind
of forgetting, and there are days,
like today, when I would like
to forget all I have done, all
that has been done to me,
and merely swim.

And so I ask myself, while turning:
Is grief sincere? Or is
a mere wetness in the face
enough to move a man from grief
to joy? A fervent yahoo
in the balls now overtakes
my sense: the tragic washes off
to whence it came, and I'm
alive again, a bathing-suited lump
of pectorals and lust,
a man so eager to be cleansed 
of all tristesse 
he stoops to stroke
this wet, amorphous circumstance,
this sometimes antimetaphysical and happy plunge.

Copyright © 1984 by Michael Blumenthal. 
From Laps, University of Massachusetts Press, l984.