Poetry Porch: Forgiveness


Night Rocking
by Michael Blumenthal

It could be the stars or the full moon
or your breathing beside me, or perhaps 
it is merely the old, familiar hand of restlessness 
leading me from the water, but something 
shakes me from sleep this night 
and, like an old widow who misses her husband, 
I go to the living room and rock my way 
to a vague remembering. Naked, a bottle of wine
in one hand, a hunger for clarity in the other,
I rock forward and back, the way Iíve seen 
old sailors rocking in rest homes, the wind gone.
I take an account of the things in the roomó
salt, pepper, books, an empty wine glassó
their terrible, relieving mundanity, 
and I know that, as I sit here and rock,
my thighs clinging to the polished wood,
you are lying in bed, the shape of my body
pressed to the sheets the way a victimís blood
holds the shape of an accident, and you are,
perhaps, dreaming of loving a man who is not 
always leaving you, and I am a man rocking 
who sees in the small movements of this chair 
the comings and goings of tide, the departures 
of the restless, and the constant returnings 
of the infidel. And I go on rocking until, 
finally, the bottle is empty, and I peel 
my back from the chair, return to the bed
the way an old beach sleeper returns to the print
of his body in sand, and I sleep again,
knowing you will wake in the morning, stretch
your small hands toward me, forgiving me
as sand forgives the restlessness of tide,
as an old widow forgives the beatings of her dead husband.

Copyright © 1980 by Michael Blumenthal. 
From Sympathetic Magic, The Water Mark Press, 1980.