the summer of our forgiveness . . .a poem by Rebecca Buchanan

It was the summer of our forgiveness
when thoughts of anyone or anything
we had ever wronged
washed up on the sandy shore of our memories
like broken shells and shards of glass
star-fish left behind
when the tide rolled in
and then slowly pulled out again.

We shuffled along like children
looking for treasures
old photographs
green sea glass
crabs appearing in the sand
briefly bubbling up through the surface
then burrowing
back again.

But we were not children
we were older then
as we are older now
with many years and many
some as tiny as the sand crabs
peeking up through the shimmering sand
and some so large
they were like beached
sea creatures
that we spent so much of our energy
trying to save
trying to return to the waters
only to find
that what had been done
could not be fixed
no matter how many times
we would go back
and try.

That summer we saw everything clearly
and we were unable to justify

We were bare
in the sunlight
and no one
could say this or that
was the cause of this or that
or my mother caused this . . .
or my father’s absence
forced me to . . .

that summer we stood there
illuminated in the light
of our own choices
our own decisions
our own sins
for so many of us saw them as that
and we were

That was the summer
the Christ came back.

The summer the apple fell
and hit the head of the Buddha.

The summer each of us
found naked
were given instructions
as to where to find
new clothes.

We were dumb as to what to say
and we were dumb
as to what to do.

How could we leave the shore
and all that was washed up
on it?

How could we leave the photographs
the sea-glass
the sea creatures
waiting for our rescue?

I dare tell you now
that all of us could not leave

though each of us were offered.

I dare tell you
that in the summer of our forgiveness
I stayed beside the waters

hoping somehow
I could fix
all that was broken
by my hands
that I could right
all that I had wronged.

I was offered
and don’t allow anyone to tell
you that I wasn’t
but I refused.

In the summer of our forgiveness
I could not go
not even to
my own soul.


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