How Do We Ask for Forgiveness

How hard it is to let go, to open our hands

and give ourselves away. Love is never simple

or easy. Our hands want to clutch what we want

to keep everything sweet and delicious for ourselves.


A selfish, careless, greedy beast growls inside us.

I think of my husband’s hand, reaching out like a claw,

creeping along the table as though no one will notice

and snatching up a cookie and crushing it to crumbs

in his fist, as though for him time is moving backwards


and he is becoming a child again, but aren’t we all children,

wanting what we want, just like when I had readings

in California and they were having mud slides so severe

the houses slipped from their foundations and all

I worried about was whether anyone would come


to my readings, slogging through dreadful weather,

and not whether houses were sliding off cliffs

into the sea, or the way I turned away from you,

my husband of forty-six years, to drive to Binghamton

to teach or fly to readings in Nebraska and South Dakota


and Detroit, leaving you behind, no matter how much

I loved you, leaving you behind. “It is the actions,

not the words that count,” my mother said, and how

do I ask for forgiveness? We get what we deserve, our hearts,

these selfish children, beating for ourselves alone.






Photo by Ilona Panych on Unsplash



Used by permission of the author.

Maria Maziotti Gillan

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is a recipient of the 2014 George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from AWP ...more