It is midnight.
He comes up the walk
and knocks at the door.
I rush to greet him.
He stands there weeping,
Shaking a letter at me.
He tells me it contains
terrible personal news.
He falls to his knees.
“Forgive me! Forgive me!” he pleads.

I ask him inside.
He wipes his eyes.
His dark blue suit
is like an inkstain
on my crimson couch.
Helpless, nervous, small,
he curls up like a ball
and sleeps while I compose
more letters to myself
in the same vein:

“You shall live
by inflicting pain.
You shall forgive.”

This Issue

January 14, 1965