Forgiveness, I am still working on it by Gail Thomas

Forgiveness, I am still working on it

after five decades. You’d think
it would be easier, now that some
of the players have died
and those who don’t
care live far away.
This labor is not love,
except the selfish sort which
is to say it may release
the small dirge without
words locked in
my chest.

I’m close
to turning the page
on lies and betrayal,
even the absent father
of my children.

But not
the country neighbor
who reached inside
his kitchen door to grab
a rifle and kill
my black dog
who was barking at
a rabbit under his porch.

Home from the hospital
with my first baby
I heard the blast mixed
with her cries
and ran across the yard
sprung with violets.
He stood his ground.

I crawled back to bed
where grief and anger
seeped into my milk.
She cried for days.
In court he remained silent.
I repeated his admission.
The judge let him walk away.

For twenty years I kept
my vow to never
home another dog
until the Wyoming sky
said, you have never
seen a sky vast enough
to crack open
a fearful heart.

Since then I have chosen
and buried companions,
and now my trusting girl,
belly exposed, shows
how to recognize
joy and
admit its shadow
which will surely come.
I am still working on it.


Gail Thomas’ new books of poetry are Trail of Roots, winner of the A.V. Christie award from Seven Kitchens Press and Leaving Paradise from Human Error Publishing. She has four other books, and her poems are widely published in journals and anthologies. Awards include the Charlotte Mew Prize from Headmistress Press for Odd Mercy, Narrative Poetry Prize from Naugatuck River Review, and the Massachusetts Center for the Book’s “Must Read” for Waving Back. She teaches poetry for Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshops, and volunteers helping resettle refugees and visiting libraries and schools with her “Reading Buddy” dog, Sunny.

3 thoughts on “Forgiveness, I am still working on it by Gail Thomas

  1. Gail Thomas’ poem grabs me by the throat. So strong ‘the dirge’ swelling in my chest. Thanks for this gift.

Leave a Reply