The poem “We can be forgiven” and a reflection

We can be forgiven
For not cleaning the cat litter today.
We can be forgiven
For leaving the bed unmade,
For leaving the car window open all night when it rained.
For burning the rice,
For not dating a check,
For hurting someone’s feelings,
For not remembering a birthday.
Even for running over a squirrel . . .
For breaking a favorite cup.
For forgetting someone doesn’t like onion,
For blaming someone for something they didn’t do . . .
For slamming a door
When someone is resting.
For breaking a promise,
For not remembering someone’s name.
But when the geese fly over, heading south,
Not to run out and watch them
And wish them well on their journey . . .
That is unforgivable.


I heard the geese go over. I was already outside so there was no running involved. I just waited for them to pass over the gaps in the canopy. Such haunting voices that, without anything to obstruct them, can be detected from quite a ways off. And there are always the stragglers. Cheering in the Spring, bitter-sweet in the Fall, same language, same phrasing, same haiku: In the Spring it’s We’re back, we’re back, we’re back . . . In the Fall, we’re leaving, we’re leaving. So it’s really an echo of a feeling of longing, longing for the promise of summer, longing for . . . wings? The freedom to take wing? To be among time’s chosen tribes. An echo? Who knows what the geese are saying or calling out. We only know, if we search our hearts, what it is their call evokes in us that longs for expression. Whatever it is, it’s ancient, it’s poetry and I need to hear it on both sides of Winter.


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