You can smell the past
It’s hard to live under layers of guilt—
thick as scents of cinnamon and garlic.
I inhale and exhale my mistakes
as though they are who I am, not what I did.
The sour arms of history embrace me
as though I am drowning in my first offense.
They rock me reeking with condemnation
as I perfume myself with good deeds and self-denial.
Who ordered me to pay penitence for the past
by sabotaging my future?
To walk in the present as though absolution
is a golden apple on the forbidden tree?
I’ve lived half a century, punishing myself
for being ten, nineteen, human.
If I am going to forgive myself,
I must admit first I am not God.
This poem also appears in Loretta Diane Walker’s book Word Ghetto published by Bluelight Press.
About the Poet:
Loretta Diane Walker won the 2016 Phyllis Wheatley Book Award for poetry, for her collection, In This House. She is a five time Pushcart nominee. She has published three collections of poetry. Her manuscript Word Ghetto won the 2011 Bluelight Press Book Award. She teaches music in Odessa, Texas. Loretta received a BME from Texas Tech University and earned a MA from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
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