Rebecca Dunham: "Forgiveness"




She sits in the buckthorn’s shade,

its branches toothed and berried


black-blue as a bruise's center.

It does not belong here any more


than her, invasive and spitting

forth its many-limbed progeny


like a nest of angry snakes. It must

be purged, cut back and stump-


ground—there will be no rising

from this grave. She touches one


spined twig, lets the thorn pierce

her finger like a cat's sickled claw.


How does one learn to let go?

Wind-shivered, the bush shakes


its gloss of green-tinctured leaves,

its garlands of poison fruit.


As if to say the flesh does not know.

As if the answer will always be no.



Rebecca Dunham is the author of two poetry collections, The Flight Cage and The Miniature Room, and she is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.